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Special School District of St. Louis County
Casting for Cancer
North Tech grad starts non-profit to raise funds for families

When Danielle Crow arrived at the hospital, all she wanted was to feel better. By the time she left two weeks later, Danielle realized she had gained a whole lot more out of the experience. She returned home not just with her health but with a calling.

Danielle was 16 at the time and had been hospitalized at SSM Cardinal Glennon Medical Center with stomach pains. In the room next door was a three-year-old girl dying from leukemia. Over the course of Danielle’s hospitalization, she and her family spoke at length with the girl’s parents and learned about the tremendous financial hardships they were experiencing.

When Danielle left the hospital two weeks later, she had come to the important realization that she wanted to spend her life helping families just like that of the little girl in the next room.

In order to meet that goal, Danielle took two important steps: First she enrolled in the Health Sciences Program at North Technical High School in order to prepare for a career in nursing, and then she set up a non-profit organization called Casting for Cancer. The organization’s flagship event is an annual bass fishing tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks. Since the group’s first tournament in 2008, Danielle has raised thousands of dollars for area families.

“I just knew I had to do something, and this seemed like the answer,” Crow says.

At the inaugural tournament in 2008, Crow raised $1,800. By the following year, the figure had leapt to nearly $7,000, allowing Crow to assist four families with children being treated at SSM Cardinal Glennon Medical Center. “One of the families was in the process of losing their home. I gave them $2,000, which helped them stay in the home long enough to sell it and avoid foreclosure. That was a big victory.”

Although the tournament raised slightly less money in 2010 – due in part to bad weather – Crow is hardly discouraged. “We’re going to keep at it. The goal has always been to raise at least $10,000 at each tournament, and I know we’ll get there.”

Crow also has organized trivia nights, silent auctions and other events to raise money for her organization.

Crow says that her motivation to continue to grow Casting for Cancer stems from a recognition that her efforts are mutually beneficial. “I gain as much as I give,” she says. “It’s really touching to work with these families and to help them. When I meet with them to present them with a check, it’s always emotional for everyone. It makes me thankful for all I have. When I help one family it motivates me to help another, and another and another.”

Soon Crow will have even more ways to help families in need. In May she graduated from North Tech after studying Health Sciences. Along with her high school diploma, she earned her certified nursing assistant certification. In the coming years, she plans to continue her studies and earn a nursing degree.

“North Tech gave me a lot of one-on-one training and I learned a lot,” she says. “Having my CNA certification will also be a big help in my career.”

In the meantime, Crow says that as long as there are local families in need, she plans to keep doing her part to help. “I can’t imagine a time where I won’t be doing this,” she says. “It’s just too important to quit.”
Casting for Cancer
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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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