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Oasis School community rallies around Chansen

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

The Oasis School community – or “The Oasis Family” as some call it, is rallying around a brave young boy who has just fought another round in his battle against leukemia.

Fifth grade student Chansen Savakinus was just going into first grade at Oasis Elementary when he was first diagnosed with the disease. He’s undergone numerous painful treatments and chemotherapy for several years, and finally was deemed cancer free earlier this year – but that did not last. After only a brief time, he started feeling numbness in his face, left arm and leg. Concerned he was having a stroke, his family immediately took him to the Children’s Hospital but the diagnosis was actually worse. His leukemia was back full force.

There were more and more treatments, and this week, he finally got out of the hospital and returned to school.

“Personally you couldn’t ask for a nicer young man, he’s a shining star,” said Oasis Principal Steven Hooks. “Chansen has been part of the Oasis family since kindergarten. We’ve all been very vested in his fight against cancer.”

Savakinus isn’t the only student that has battled cancer there.

“We have four students here who are all survivors and I always make sure that they and all the community knows they are my heroes,” Hooks said. “They come to school every day, they smile, they work hard and do everything they can do to shine at school. It is their spirit that makes us all shine.”

“I’ve never seen a school with such a sense of community and character,” said mother Destiny Savakinus. “When Chansen was first diagnosed at the end May of 2007, the school immediately stood behind us and also other kids at school with cancer. They just formed that bond.”

She said that when he was re-diagnosed, “immediately the school was on it. The teachers made meals for us every single night, and they started with all different fund-raisers. I had mothers I had never even met do fund-raisers for us.”

She gets constant emails from the teachers and other mothers, offering to watch her children, which also includes a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old.

“They do anything we need,” she said.

All the help and concern showed by the school’s parents, students and staff as well as the principal, is a “really great feel good story” said family friend and fellow Oasis parent Jen-Hope Belis. “The school and the Oasis family did a number of things. One example is a campaign that was around Valentine’s Day ‘Have a Heart for Chansen.’ The school alone raised over $4,500 and money still coming in.”

The money is much needed. The illness has devastated his family financially, with medical expenses and both parents taking time off their career pursuits to be with their son, and take care of their two other children.

“It has been step by step, goal by goal,” said Belis.

There were donations of iPad touches so Chansen could communicate with his brother Colton from the hospital, to say good night and keep connected.

Then funds raised we used for a special chair at the school, and toward an adjustable bed to make him more comfortable, as he is often in pain.

Now there will be a special fund-raising arm of an upcoming school event.

“The Oasis 5K will be held on Saturday, March 31,” said PTO president Jean Ricciardella. “Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the Oasis Relay for Life Team (Relay for Life will be on April 28) and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to The Chansen Savakinus Fund. The public is welcome to participate.”

Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk/run will begin at 8:30 a.m. The Walk/Run will be held on Oasis campus at 3415 Oasis Blvd.

Donation is $5 per walker/runner and $10 per family.

There will also be special T-shirts available for sale – Chansen’s Champions – with he and the other cancer surviving students. Proceeds will go to the family.

“The next goal for me as a family friend is to get the family a car,” said Belis. “We’re reaching out to car dealers. Mr. Hook and I are working on this. Even if not a full donation, we could really use a greatly discounted price. It needs to fit a wheelchair and a stroller, a mini van. These three growing boys need it.”

If you would like to donate, you can make checks out to “Chansen Savakinus Fund” and send to 1538 S.W. 49th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL 33914.

For information, you can call the school at 542-1577 or email to jhbelis@yahoo.com.