Portage High School sophomore and cancer survivor Morgan Fimreite is accustomed to prioritizing others ahead of herself.
Even as a 6-year-old undergoing treatment for a rare form of blood cancer, she used her sense of humor to make things more pleasant for the people around her.
“The things I remember now are mostly the good things — the times that I had the most fun,” Fimreite said of 2½ years of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“I would bring in ‘Screature the Dinosaur’ and ask my nurses if they wanted to pet him. Then he’d squirt them with water,” she said. “We played with Barbies and water balloons, and I would write jokes on the whiteboard in my hospital room.
“I made a lot of good friends during that time.”
Fimreite became cancer-free in 2011.
She never forgot the people and organizations who helped her along the way. Since then, she’s volunteered her time and efforts to support organizations including the Badger Childhood Cancer Network in Madison, the Child Life program at American Children’s Family Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
And now she’s trying to raise $25,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“She’s always thinking about other people so that they won’t need to,” said her mother, Jean Mitchell-Fimreite, who recalled her daughter bringing extra toys to the hospital during treatment because she wanted other children to have them, too.
“She’s a miracle,” Mitchell-Fimreite said.
Mitchell-Fimreite — who teaches English at Rio Middle School — is among 14 members of her daughter’s fundraising team called Finish the Fight, which raised $10,000 in two weeks.
“Finish the Fight” is Fimreite’s contribution to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year campaign — a seven-week fundraising challenge for high school and college students.
So far, the team has raised money by reaching out to friends and family via social media, selling shirts and holding a 50/50 raffle drawing at a recent Portage Community School District sporting event.
Fimreite also is securing sponsors, silent auction items and selling tickets and tables for the Society’s Grand Finale Gala, set for March 14 in Madison. Details about the Gala and other fundraising events can be found on Fimreite’s custom fundraising page.
Many contributors to Finish the Fight donated to the family as Fimreite underwent treatment nine years ago, said her father, Jon Fimreite. Seeing that same generosity again is “amazing,” he added.
“We almost lost her several times throughout her treatment, and we’re so thankful she’s still around,” he said of an allergic reaction to medicine and a blood clot in the brain Fimreite sustained during treatment.
Though Fimreite is cancer-free today, the lasting effects of her chemotherapy treatments include chronic pain in her ankles and calves, while her heart and other organs need to be checked periodically.
The entire experience provides perspective she’ll never lose, Fimreite said.
“The money for LLS is for bettering patient care and treatment and for cancer research,” she said of why she’s taking part in the campaign. “I’m thinking about all the people who helped me — everyone who rallied together and helped my family during that difficult time.”