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Challenger Middle staff, students rally around 8th grader

By Staff | Jun 2, 2015

A failed eye exam for one 8th grade Challenger Middle School student began a slew of tests, which resulted in a diagnosis of optic pathway glioma.

Kevin Bopp said in 2009 his vision was mostly clear, but that soon changed when the doctor saw swelling on his optic nerve. After an MRI was ordered, the doctors told the Bopp family that the brain tumor would have to be on a “watch and wait protocol” due to its location. The observations took place every three months and then pushed back to every six months when no growth was spotted.

Bopp said when the tumor grew to 3 millimeters near where two optic nerves meet, the doctor said it was time to take action.

“It was seriously growing,” he said.

With the tumor growing, the doctors decided to start Bopp on proton therapy, which is radiation that is more precise with fewer side effects. He said without the radiation he will lose his vision.

The family will travel to Jacksonville this summer, so Bopp can begin his six to eight weeks of treatment. His first treatment will begin June 18.

The family will stay in Jacksonville for the duration of his radiation, due to the 30-minute treatments five days a week.

“It should kill the tumor and make it stop growing,” Bopp said.

Kathleen Donelan’s language arts and reading students provided a presentation of their project, “Change the World One Step at a Time,” Thursday night in the library at Challenger Middle School, which was in conjunction with a fund-raiser for Bopp.

The students said they wanted to dedicate Thursday night to “making Kevin’s world a better place.” The presentation included a photo slide show of Bopp.

“He didn’t want to bring attention to himself. He didn’t want it to be the focus,” Avery Chard, an 8th grade student said about Bopp’s brain tumor.

She said by talking about the tumor and helping him with the fund-raiser Bopp feels accepted.

The slideshow presentation was a collection of work the students have created in the form of poems, videos, artwork, biographical essays and a song, which were all based on the same theme, how they could change the world. Such words as honor, leadership, commitment, kindness, compassion, love and integrity were shared during the presentation and what those words meant to them.

“It doesn’t take a lot to change the world. It can start with one person. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be little,” Sheyenne Green, an eighth grade student, said.

She said she has known Bopp for nine years.

“Watching him grow up is amazing,” Green said.

Chard said the project has inspired her to do random acts of kindness because she can make a difference and create a better place to live.

Kaylin Hill, also an 8th grade student, said the project taught her to stay positive while knowing that little things can help change someone else’s world.

In addition to the donation jars located throughout the library, posters were located around school of how to help the Bopp family, as well as barrels where students could toss extra change.

Donations can also be made at www.youcaring.com/helpforkevin .

Bopp said he is very flattered that his classmates dedicated the night to him. He said he is very happy that his classmates are behind him through this journey.

“We are really glad we can be a part of this, Solanch Dupeyron, an 8th grade student, said. “It makes me feel good to help him.”