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For Idaho teen, breast cancer fight is personal

Kellogg High School senior Jessica Margason raised more than $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in honor of her mother, Diana Margason, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. (Kathy Plonka)
Kellogg High School senior Jessica Margason raised more than $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in honor of her mother, Diana Margason, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. (Kathy Plonka)

When Kellogg High School senior Jessica Margason decided to put together a team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the fundraising goal of $1,000 seemed daunting.

Headed into Sunday’s race in Coeur d’Alene, her team, Infinite Love, has raised about $5,000. No other team has come close to that tally in this year’s North Idaho fundraiser for breast health programs supported by the Komen Foundation.

“I didn’t really realize how big it was going to get,” said Margason, who lives in Silverton, Idaho, and plans to become a dental hygienist.

Her hard work has caught the attention of Komen’s Idaho affiliate based in Boise.

“We’re big fans of hers,” mission manager Jodi Brawley said. “She is kind of a role model for everybody else who’s fundraising. She represents us and she represents the cause really well.”

The effort is tied to Margason’s senior project this year, but it’s also a personal endeavor.

Her mother, Diana, the attendance secretary at Kellogg High, twice has been treated for breast cancer, including earlier this year. Margason was in third grade the first time her mom beat back cancer.

“I pretty much just remember the bad things, like chemo and radiation, the effects of that,” she said. “I think because of it I matured at a really young age, because everything was a lot more real.”

As her mother was again in treatment this year and Margason was starting work on her senior project, her best friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I can’t really imagine where I’d be right now without those impacts,” she said. “I definitely don’t think I’d be in this position of having such passion for the subject if it hadn’t affected me personally. It’s definitely my inspiration.”

Diana Margason called her daughter amazing. “It’s always been such a big part of our lives, breast cancer, and for her to take it on in such a mature manner to me is just very commendable,” she said.

For her senior year community service project, Jessica Margason organized a recent benefit concert at the Sixth Street Theater and Melodrama in Wallace, where she also appears in community productions. The event included a silent auction for gift baskets and a bake sale.

“That night we raised $3,024.50,” she said. “It came together super good.”

NASCO, a construction management company headquartered in Kellogg, donated $1,000 to her team, which also has received support from Dave Smith Motors, where Margason works as a receptionist. The team shirts – black with hot pink lettering and a symbol that blends a heart with the infinity sign – will feature a Dave Smith license plate on the back.

“It’s going to be cool seeing us all wearing the same shirt and representing our little community,” Margason said.

She and her mom have participated in the race for the past decade. This is the first time they’ve been part of a team and involved in raising money. Margason has recruited about 30 friends and family members for the Infinite Love team.

“It’s very important to have your family members beside you. I think it helps in your recovery,” Diana Margason said. “And it’s a big deal for them, too.”

She said she appreciates how uplifting the Coeur d’Alene event is. “This one they really celebrate those who have survived it,” she said.

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