Club Spotlight: ATAC

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Courtesy of AADYA SARIPALLE ATAC officers meet up during lunch to plan for future events led by

Maithili Munjewar

    Active Teens Against Cancer, also known as ATAC, is a club at Wilcox High School with a mission to spread awareness about cancer to students on campus. Formed fifteen years ago as a support group for former Wilcox student, Felicia Hyde, who lost her mother to breast cancer, it eventually evolved into a club with many active members. The current advisor is Ms. Guttadauro and the club officers are Chargers from a across grade levels: Victor Perez Contreras, Gauri Agrawal, Diane Shih, Todd Beadell, Atul Venkatesan, Sejal Pawar, Syeda Quadri, Maddy Debbage, and Iffat Alamgir.   

   Every other month or so, the club officers arrange meetings to discuss different activities they can incorporate into the ATAC club. They brainstorm ideas regarding upcoming fundraisers for cancer organizations, club bondings, volunteer opportunities for members to partake in, and Cancer of the Month, where members are encouraged to learn and discuss about new cancers monthly. ATAC has centralized its efforts on utilizing boba fundraisers and online donation platforms to raise money for breast and uterine cancer as well as leukemia. Towards the beginning of the year, ATAC officers organized fundraisers at Float Night, where they were able to sell out all drinks with their enthusiasm. During the meetings, ATAC attempts to provide its members with snacks along with critical information to raise awareness about various types of cancer and treatments. At their most recent meeting, the officers talked about cervical cancer, its prevalence across the globe, common warning signs, precautionary measures, and treatment methods people with specific types of cancer may turn to for help. The club ensures the information and statistics it presents are contemporary. Vice President, Gauri Agrawal, mentioned how the officers are currently working on hosting a school-wide Cancer Awareness Fair to raise awareness on a bigger scale. ATAC has also hosted smaller events in the past, including a volunteering event in which members made pins for those afflicted with breast cancer. Due to COVID-19, the club was unable to take part in larger activities, however, the officer board is determined to engage its members through community service. A current plan they had in mind was hosting a walkathon in May, and hopes that the event can still take place amidst a pandemic. In an interview with Agrawal, she mentioned how they are “always coming up with new ideas and changes such as our soon-to-be-introduced ATAC merch. Next year’s officers might have some ideas for the club as well.” She shares that she likes being in the club, “I want to go into cancer[fields] in the future, and learning about cancer and going to certain events is what I enjoy the most because it gives me more of a reason to enjoy oncology.” 

    In an interview with Ms. Guttadaro, who has been advising for the club since it was founded, shared her story of getting cancer herself, and how all her students were very supportive and caring towards her. She mentioned that she has been encouraged by her ATAC community through her hard times and expressed her appreciation towards her students. She, herself is active in her community and often partakes in activities revolving around cancer. For instance, she has volunteered at the American Cancer Society where they made and decorated cans for an event where patients with cancer walked together. 

    Started as a small support group for a student, ATAC has evolved into a club that raises awareness of cancers across the Charger community and provides spaces where students can share their stories. Through ATAC, many students with connections to cancer are able to contribute their views and perspectives with similar minds, which is ultimately providing comfort. Taking the time to talk about a different type of cancer at each meeting and conducting research to educate Wilcox students demonstrates how dedicated the club officers and members are. As for upcoming plans, ATAC is arranging a gift basket-making for oncologists and nurses to show their support as well as running a World’s Finest Chocolate fundraiser. Driven ATAC members are constantly taking action towards their mission and will continue doing so in the future.