Juniors Sofia Castore and Beckett Vine write well-wishes on a quilt made by Community Service Coordinator Marci Bahr. The quilt will be delivered to McKone in the hospital when all space is filled up.

Leila Pulaski

‘Where there’s a Will there’s a way’: School relaxes rule on fundraising to support ailing junior

November 6, 2018

Fundraisers at school are typically not allowed because, according to the Student Handbook, “the School wants students to focus on personal service to others.” On Oct. 23, administrators made an exception for one individual: Will McKone.

McKone, who has been at St. John’s since kindergarten, needed to withdraw from school after completing his sophomore year after a malignant brain tumor prevented him from continuing his studies this year.

On Nov. 5, Community Service began selling T-shirts with the slogan “WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A WAY!” on the front. Proceeds will benefit A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure Foundation, which has been supporting McKone for the last several years. Designed by McKone and his sister Lindsey (’16), the royal blue shirts sell for $20, with all profit going directly to the foundation.

“We felt that given Will’s long-standing association with St. John’s and the current challenges he is facing, if we all leaned in, we might lift his spirits,” Headmaster Mark Desjardins said.

According to Community Service Coordinator Marci Bahr, McKone has dealt with the challenges of a brain tumor his whole life. While playing ball with his father last year, Will lost his balance, which was the first time he ever felt the effects of the tumor.

Last summer, the annual Texas 4000 for Cancer charity bicycle ride from Texas to Alaska made St. John’s one of the stops. Bahr asked McKone to chair the project, and, according to Bahr, McKone was “gracious and excited” to be involved.

“I just saw once again that [Will] is a stellar, stellar human being who will stop at nothing to help others,” Bahr said.

McKone is currently undergoing treatment for his inoperable tumor in the Intensive Care Unit at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Bahr noted that the T-shirt sale is unique because of McKone’s contributions to the School, including the Student Affairs Council and community service. McKone is also the Assistant Video Editor of The Review and was recently recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association for producing one of the 10 best multimedia sports story packages (with junior Sophia Lima). McKone’s Small ball strategy pays big dividends video also won third place in NSPA’s Multimedia Sports Story of the year in 2017.

“Even through this illness, I’ve never seen Will without a smile. He is just an exceptionally positive human being,” Bahr said. “This [fundraiser] is special because there is nothing else that we can do, really, to support Will and his family — and this request came from them. Will is a beloved member of our community, and we want to do whatever we can to support him.”

St. John’s has led additional efforts to support McKone. On Nov. 2, Head of Upper School Hollis Amley gave an update on McKone’s condition during Chapel. Later that day, cards and envelopes were available in the main office for anyone who wanted to send McKone well wishes. Rebecca Leakey, Upper School Administrative Assistant, will continue to forward all cards and letters to McKone.

Bahr recently created a quilt that was placed in the Great Hall on Nov. 6 for students to inscribe. Once the space fills up, Bahr will deliver it to the hospital.

All T-shirt orders must be completed by Thursday, Nov. 8, and the shirts will be delivered to school next week.

One of McKone’s classmates, William Perdue, said, “Will is a great kid: He is smart, athletic and kind — basically just an all-around great guy. I want to support him as much as I can during his battle. No one should have to go through this. I ordered the shirt to support Will’s cause.”

To order a T-shirt, go to the link sent by Ms. Bahr on Nov. 6.

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