Elizabeth High School student Michelle Brocki knew her knee was hurting, but experience led her mother to believe she injured it during color guard practice.
Brocki, 17, felt pain in her right leg in November 2011 and by the following February, it was unbearable. In March 2012, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Within seven days of diagnosis, she began chemotherapy.
In the months that followed, Brocki and her mother, Cate Brocki, relocated to the Denver metro area to live in Brent’s Place, a home for cancer patients and families undergoing treatment. It was the best option to be closer to Brocki’s treatment hospital, eliminating the daily trips from Elbert County.
It would be nearly a year before they would return home. By then, Brocki had a new knee, new tibia and was about to meet some new people courtesy of a Douglas County High School student.
Christian Paschke, co-president of the DCHS student body, led his school on a Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser in hopes of making it an annual event. Paschke feels he got lucky when the foundation matched his fundraiser with Brocki.
“When she heard we were going to sponsor her, she was always smiling and proud she could inspire our school to do something for a good cause,” Paschke said. “She’s just happy she got to be a part of it.”
The high school hoped to raise about $8,000, enough to grant Brocki’s wish to see Disney World for the first time. Instead, it raised $12,000 and will be able to grant a wish for a second child.
“Everyone was surprised at how much we were raising,” Paschke said. “Kids were stunned, blown away by how much our school could do.”
Michelle calls the DCHS students “awesome and amazing” and plans to take Sarah Postma, her best friend since first grade, with her on the Disney trip.
Brocki is back in school and back at color guard practice, with barely a bump in her daily routine. Her biggest challenge since returning to school?
“Nothing really,” she said with a smile. “Outside of being tired and my leg hurting once in a while, I like to be out and about.”