OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Blue Valley School District is going green. That’s the color scheme for a powerful new fundraising effort known as #TeamOwen.
Four-year-old Owen Cigich’s brave battle with two life-threatening conditions inspired Team Owen to raise more than $25,000 in a little over a week.
Owen’s mother, Kathleen Cigich, is the beloved principal at Lakewood Elementary in the Blue Valley district.
“It’s humbling because I got into this because I wanted to take care of other people and take care of their kids every day,” Cigich told FOX4. “And instead, right now, they’re taking care of me and taking care of my kids. I’m so thankful.”
Owen was born with a kidney disorder and, until recently, was preparing for a transplant.
“We went in for our kidney transplant evaluation two and a half weeks ago,” Cigich explained. “And during that, there was an ultrasound and they found a mass on his liver, which is a rare form of liver cancer.”
Doctors diagnosed Owen with hepatoblastoma, a survivable yet exceptionally rare form of cancer.
Parents of children at Lakewood Elementary leapt into action to help the Cigich family any way they could.
“There’s a ton of kids at the school, and she knows every single one by name,” said parent Ashlee Shafer. “She knows them personally and she goes above and beyond, even though we know she’s at home juggling some major medical problems for her son.”
Team Owen sold enough T-shirts to make a powerful statement on the last day of school at Lakewood.
“All the kids wore green to support Owen, and we picked the phrase ‘You’re Amazing’ for our T-shirts,” Shafer said. “But Owen’s actually says, ‘I’m Amazing’ on it.”
Megan Bennett, another Lakewood parent heavily involved in Team Owen, gushes about Cigich’s devotion to her students.
“She really helps the underdogs, the ones that really need it and the new kids,” Bennett said. “I’m just happy that we can do the same for her right now.”