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Kindergarten center raises $1,800 for student with tumor

Anika Chesak is one smart, pretty, fun and friendly kindergartner — and her classmates all want her to get better soon.

Her friends at Woodson Kindergarten Center gave the Chesak family $1,800 Thursday to help with the expenses that have incurred since Anika was diagnosed in November with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancerous tumor which is located behind her right eye.

Students at Woodson and at Banfield and Southgate elementaries raised the money by having “Hats On For Anika” days, where students could pay $1 or more to wear a hat to school.

“We’re so very grateful,” Anika’s mother, Sherry Chesak, told the students. “It means so much that Anika has the support of her friends.”

Anika is currently in her second six-week cycle of intensive chemotherapy, for which she goes to the Mayo Clinic every Friday, explained her father, Andy Chesak.

“She’s amazing. She’s very brave,” he said.

Anika recently returned to her class at Woodson, where Sarah Heller is her teacher.

“The kids missed her so much,” Heller said. “We explained to them that she is sick and that her hair was going to be gone… She’s just the most popular girl. They all want to play with her and they all want to sit by her at lunch.”

When Anika was out of school, Heller made time to make some house calls to keep Anika caught up with school work.

“Everyone has really bent over backwards,” Sherry said when thanking Woodson kindergartners, noting that lunch ladies have also prepared special meals for Anika.

Anika will continue six-week cycles of chemotherapy through mid-September, Andy said.

Right now Anika is happy to be back in school and dance lessons, and enjoying spending time with her friends and big brother and sister, Ava and Andrew, he said.

Those who want to donate to the Chesak family can do so at Accentra Credit Union, 400 Fourth Ave. NE, through the Anika Chesak fund.

To learn more about Anika, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/anikachesak.