The sixth annual Chain Reaction fundraiser was held on September 16, 2022. (Photo Credit: Aspen Hunter/Achona Online)
The sixth annual Chain Reaction fundraiser was held on September 16, 2022.

Photo Credit: Aspen Hunter/Achona Online

AHN holds sixth annual Chain Reaction fundraiser

October 10, 2022

Founded in 2017 by alumnae Chloe Mintz (A‘22) and Laura Caroline Jung (A‘22), the Chain Reaction Fundraiser is a field day for the Academy’s elementary and middle divisions in honor of Cailin Cannella, who passed away from osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, at 14 years old. This fundraiser is held annually in accordance with the Cailin Strong Foundation with the goal of raising awareness and money for pediatric cancer research. With the motto, “Another link, another chance,” Chain Reaction seeks to unify and educate the AHN community whilst recognizing the countless tragic losses, including Cailin’s, that have resulted from pediatric cancer. 

With its founders having graduated last May, Chain Reaction is now under the auspices of Ashlin Cannella (‘24), Cailin’s younger sister, and Emma Kaiser (‘24). Their months-long preparation was done with the help of the Chain Reaction Board, composed of Secretary Brynn Wilary (‘23) and a dozen other members who were divided into three committees. 

The field day games and activities were planned by the Events Committee, represented by Amber Torres (‘23), Aspen Hunter (‘23), Natalie Marks (‘24), Maegan Vericker (‘24), and Grace Callahan (‘25). The Donations Committee collected both monetary and material donations from local companies, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Rays, and Wright’s Gourmet. This outreach was conducted by Cannella and Kaiser as well as Donations Committee members Brooke Beede (’24) and Samantha Cogburn (‘24). Finally, the Publicity Committee—run by Amanda Moroney (‘23), Becca Sayad (‘23), and Tillie Gramata (‘24)—was entrusted with all forms of social media and design. Additional help in planning and organizing the event was provided by multiple parents, two Jesuit students, and several Academy high school volunteers. 

Chain Reaction co-president Ashlin Cannella (‘24) said, “I was very nervous leading up to the event, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. We raised over $10,000 which we are so grateful and proud of. There is a lot of work leading up to the event and a lot of it is done over the summer. We had meetings over the summer and Mrs. Elliott helped lead us through some of it. Emma and I were so glad to take the responsibility over from Laura Caroline Jung and Chloe Mintz, and we hoped to make the event as great as it had been in the past.”

Parents, students, and teachers lined up at the AHN field’s entrance and had the option to purchase Chain Reaction bracelets. (Photo Credit: Aspen Hunter/Achona Online)

This year’s fundraiser was particularly successful, as nearly 500 people in the Academy community participated in the various events Chain Reaction has to offer. The most popular and anticipated of these is the Pie in the Face raffle, in which students have the opportunity to “pie” their teachers with tins of whipped cream. Other raffle items included gift cards and baskets with various goods and supplies dedicated to self-care, elementary school boys, and elementary school girls. Additionally, the field day games included the three-legged race, egg-spoon relay, Hawaiian shirt relay, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. 

When not playing games or purchasing raffle tickets, attendees enjoyed baked goods, Hyppo Pops, burgers (courtesy of the Dads’ Club), and snow cones from the Kona Ice truck. 

Secretary Brynn Wilary (‘23) said, “I thought Chain Reaction went really well! I was in charge of the Pie In The Face raffle, and hearing all of the stories about the elementary and middle schoolers’ favorite teachers was super sweet.”

High school volunteers Natalie Marks (‘24) and Emme Shoop (‘24) led the Hawaiian shirt relay race. (Photo Credit: Aspen Hunter/Achona Online)

As of this year, Chain Reaction has been made an out club in order to ensure that its contributions extend beyond the annual fundraiser. The club will be conducting service projects throughout the year with the goal of continuing to raise money and offer support for those affected by pediatric cancer. 

Co-president Emma Kaiser (‘24) said, “I really hope Chain Reaction can spread beyond the Academy because another link means another chance to save lives, and the more people involved means the more awareness we can spread and the more help we can get.”

You can learn more about the Cailin Strong Foundation, donate, or purchase a t-shirt here.

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