Casual for a Cause Breaks Past Records


Media by Austin Richard

Brittany Sharitz, language arts teacher, works on her computer in room 279. Sharitz helps organize the Casual for a Cause week and said she looks forward to the future of the fundraiser. “I’m really proud of Marquette and our staff that we have been the school that has lead this for rockwood in previous years,” Sharitz said. “I do hope we maintain that leadership position.”

Casual For a Cause week all started four years ago when the grandfather of Brittany Sharitz, language arts teacher, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Casual for a Cause, which was held between Oct. 21-25, is a week where teachers can donate $10 to the Alzheimer’s Association and in return, dress casually for the week. 

Sharitz said while this incentive may not seem enticing at first, it does draw many teachers to donate.

“Teachers like dressing casual and will pay money to do that for a good cause,” Sharitz said. 

Sharitz said the fundraiser has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. So much so that this year it raised $1,150 in donations, surpassing last years total by around $200. 

Sharitz added that a possible explanation for the fundraiser’s success is how so many teachers at MHS are impacted by the disease, be it through family or friends who have been diagnosed. 

About 5.8 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This number is only predicted to rise up to 14 million by 2050.   

“We actually have a lot of teachers who are impacted by Alzheimer’s, whether it be parents, grandparents, siblings, sometimes even spouses showing signs of dementia,” Sharitz said. “The staff really connects with this disease and wants to be a part of the cure for the future.”

One of the teachers who has a strong connection with the disease is Eric Nesbit, special school district (SSD) worker, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. 

The money raised can be turned over and used locally for supporting these individuals.”

— Eric Nesbit

“This is a deadly disease that strikes people of all races and socioeconomic status,” Nesbit said. “The money raised can be turned over and used locally for supporting these individuals.”

Nesbit has participated in Casual for a Cause for multiple years; however, he said it is slightly more important to him this year because of his mother.

“In previous years, I didn’t participate because of any family, but now it means a little more as it has touched my family and my siblings,” Nesbit said.

Denise Cadigan, director of bands at Wildwood Middle School, is Rockwood’s Alzheimer’s Association Community Educator (AACE) and is the one who organizes all events related to the Association. Cadigan said she first became a volunteer after her grandmother passed away in 2010. 

“Having encountered so many in Rockwood who are coping with this disease directly, I wanted to do something more,” Cadigan said. “Many of our Rockwood staff members have become caregivers or care partners to loved ones in droves the last few years. Our parents, students, and staff members need to talk to one another and know they are not alone.”

Cadigan said she saw this year’s Casual for a Cause week as a great success.

“We need everyone’s help to make a difference, and our Greater Missouri Chapter is so proud of MHS and the Team Rockwood community,” Cadigan said.