The loop in front of Seton Keough High School on Caton Avenue was filled with students Wednesday morning for the all-girls Catholic school's seventh annual Kathleen Bowen Walk for Hope.
Hundreds of girls wearing purple shirts walked laps around the circle to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a nonprofit that advances treatment and prevention of catastophic diseases in children.
This year's event was dedicated to school principal Angela Calamari, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. Calamari, who has been principal of the school for four years, said she has finished chemotherapy treatments and began radiation therapy this week.
"The support from the school has been wonderful. It's a difficult time and we're a very prayerful community. I definitely feel the prayers getting me through," Calamari said.
"I try to be visible for the girls so that they know, no matter what adversity you're going through, that you can still do what you need to do," she said.
Calamari said she's had plenty of support from family, friends and the community, but there are people who don't have any such support, something she wants her students to recognize .
She also would like the girls to be aware of the importance of doing self breast exams, which is how she caught that she had cancer early.
The Bowen Walk started seven years ago when two students at the school were diagnosed with cancer, one of whom was treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The school's chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) organizes the annual event and the money raised is donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis for cancer patients.
Last year, the students exceeded their goal of $4,500.
This year, the goal was $4,000 since fewer students were taking part.
Money came from the sale of t-shirts and food the day of the event
Seniors Katie Hutcheson, Meg Wickless, Hailee Clampitt and Maggie Zaleski were the NHS members involved in organizing the event.
"The whole day is about keeping hopes high," said Hutcheson, who, like many of the Seton Keough students, knows of a schoolmate who has been affected by cancer.
"For me, the Walk for Hope means fighting back — not giving into something that seems to affect everyone in our community," said the Catonsville resident.
The four girls said the walk allows the school to unite for cause that has affected their teachers, friends and family.
Hailee Clampitt, an Arbutus resident, said the event is important because it brings the community closer.
"We all come together for a common goal. It's so awesome to be walking around and everyone's out there. Especially since it's hit so close to home with our community," Clampitt said.
The event begins and ends with a prayer service in the auditorium. Throughout the day, students walked around the loop in front of the school and took part in activities from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in different classrooms.
The scent of waffles wafted through the halls from one classroom and smoothies were sold in another to raise money for the cause.
In another room, hair stylists donated their time to cut hair that will be donated to make wigs for cancer patients.
Jennifer Casey, an English teacher at the school who heads NHS, said it's her favorite day of the year.
"The girls go home feeling like they did something for someone in need. And I love that they can come to school and have that opportunity," Casey said.
"I think that it's a real opportunity for them to demonstrate their ability to offer leadership to the community," Casey said.