Hamilton High School senior Ray Allison has a tender heart for families battling against breast cancer as his family has been on that same journey.
Now he is acting on his empathy.
His concern for the Lachenauer family of Corvallis has led him fundraising to help them defray the cost of fighting breast cancer. He put his construction skills to work.
Allison’s mother, Echo, the K-4 enrichment specialist at the Hamilton School District, was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer in July.
“Ever since then we have been going through the treatments and all that and so I know what goes on,” Ray Allison said. “I know it is no fun. Anything I can do to help out a family going through it, I’m more than happy to.”
Echo Allison has successfully completed 20-weeks of chemotherapy and bi-lateral mastectomy surgery.
“I am doing well and I am still teaching as much as I can,” she said. “The good news is the chemo did its job. It was the most aggressive treatment and when I did my bi-lateral mastectomy surgery the pathology report came back with ‘no residual cancer,’ that was very exciting.”
She is currently doing radiation treatments, driving to Missoula each weekday for six-weeks.
“They are doing that because inflammatory breast cancer is so aggressive and they want to make sure any cancer cells would be eradicated,” Echo Allison said. “It’s been horrible driving to Missoula on seriously bad roads but I’m half way through that. I still do chemotherapy every three weeks.”
She said her journey has been a process that she “wouldn’t want anyone to have to experience” and when she found out that Desi Lachenauer, a substitute teacher at Daly school, was diagnosed with breast cancer she was devastated for her.
“I knew what she was headed into,” Allison said. “Desi’s husband had lost his job then she was diagnosed. I know financially, that is hard. Then he got another job which is great but they have to meet the deductible for the first insurance and also for the second insurance with in several months of each other. Financially, that is pretty catastrophic.”
Echo shared the information with her son, Ray, who decided he could step up and make a difference by making fundraising for the Lachenauer family his senior project.
“I decided to build a concrete coffee table and gather other items to be raffled off to raise money for Mrs. Lachenauer,” Ray Allison said.
Specifically, his coffee table is three-by-four-feet with a steel inlay that can be used indoors or outdoors.
“I was able to make a mold to put the concrete in, then Massa donated all the supplies for it,” Allison said. “Then I mixed up the concrete, poured it in there and added a stamped Montana state logo. It says 406 in the shape of Montana.”
Allison said he had gained concrete experience by helping with the newly completed Bronc Football stadium.
Ray Allison is selling raffle tickets for four prizes. The coffee table is first prize, the second prize is a basket with nine “think fun” games like Solitaire, Chess, River Crossing, Snack Attack, Swish and Gordian’s Knot.
Two third place winners will win metal art work in the shape of Montana with “406” cut out. Ray Allison cut out the metal signs and feels comfortable working with metal after taking four years of welding at the high school.
Ray Allison has been selling raffle tickets and bake sale items and said it has allowed him to see the vast and touching support of the community.
Desi Lachenauer called Ray Allison an “amazing kid.”
The Lachenauer family has five members, Desi, her husband Butch and three children — Hailey (off to college), Hannah (a senior at Corvallis High School) and Shane (in eighth grade at Corvallis Middle School).
Desi was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in November.
“It’s been a journey,” she said. “I am overwhelmed by the love and support from the community. It’s been a challenge going through the chemo, side-effects and emotions. It has been wonderful to feel the love and support from the community.”
Hamilton High School senior projects are part of the English curriculum.
Hamilton Principal Dan Kimzye said they are “designed to mentor kids and help them see beyond themselves and develop service to their community as a natural part of being a citizen.”
“Every student’s project is a little bit different,” Kimzey said. “Some capture kids’ already-developed interests and passions, while others might be completely out of a student’s wheelhouse.”
He said seniors have had creative approaches to the service-learning projects.
“This project also has the added benefit of partnering students with mentors and community members, which is important in connecting rising graduates to our community more strongly,” Kimzey said. “It’s quickly becoming one of the highlights of the year when all the kids present to community and staff ‘real-world’ audiences about their service learning project.”
After graduation Ray Allison will spend the summer packing and clearing trails then plans to attend Missoula College to study diesel mechanics in the fall.
Raffle tickets cost $5 for one ticket or $20 for five tickets and are available at Daly Elementary School office or by contacting Ray Allison at email@example.com. You do not need to be present to win.
The drawing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on March 14 at Dairy Queen, 109 Bitterroot Plaza Dr, Hamilton. The winner does not need to be present. To make a last minute raffle ticket purchase, Ray and Echo Allison will be at Dairy Queen an hour before the drawing.