Chilliwack secondary teacher gets Joe Mauro tattoo for Terry Fox fundraiser

CSS students and teachers rallied to raise more than $10,000, and Chris Reilly got some ink.

A Chilliwack secondary school teacher is walking the hallways today with the face of colleague Joe Mauro tattooed on the back of his calf, a steep price paid for a hugely successful Terry Fox fundraiser.

Chris Reilly agreed to have Joe Mauro’s mug etched on his leg if the school was able to raise $10,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.

Determined to make it happen, students and teachers rallied to raise more than $13,070 and now, wherever Reilly goes, Mauro will go with him.

Everywhere.

Chris Reilly (left) and Joe Mauro (right) on tattoo day at Chilliwack secondary school.

“Joe means so much to me and the school,” Reilly reasoned. “Anyone that knows him will tell you what an incredible man he is and I couldn’t be prouder to call him a friend. So to do this was not a hard decision at all and I’m so happy and proud the school pulled together to accomplish the goal.”

And really, Reilly had no one to blame but himself. According to Andrea Doerksen, a teacher who helped organize the fundraiser alongside Mary Casey and Erin Gniwodda, Reilly came up with the idea in a conversation with another colleague, Matthew Ferris.

Chris came to me last September and said, “We’ve got this idea,’” Doerksen recalled. “‘Ferris and I were talking, and if we raise $10,000 I’ll get this tattoo.’

“I happen to be buddies with Jody Blakeway at Ink Boy (Tattoo Studio). I messaged him and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this crazy idea. Any chance that if we raise $10,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation, you can come in-house and do a tattoo in our gym?”

After making sure he had the proper health permits, Blakeway — a CSS alum who offered to do the tattoo for free — gave the green light and the project moved ahead.

But how to raise that much dough?

In six prior years, the school had done well to raise between $4,500 and $5,000, but this was a big jump with big stakes.

The tattoo absolutely needed to happen.

Falling short of the goal was not an option, so CSS leadership students came up with several ideas that combined social media outreach and online fundraising with in-school events.

You might remember running the beep test in your phys-ed classes, dreading every moment of that sadistic endurance exercise?

CSS teachers did that, with a twist.

“Kids could pay for dodge balls to throw at us as we ran the beep test,” Doerksen laughed.

There were bake sales. There was a live auction where students could bid to be a VIP for a day, get the best spot in the staff parking lot or get their mitts on the legendary elevator fob.

“We had a teacher versus student basketball game,” Doerksen said. “We had a school-wide barbecue. For the last two weeks the school has been buzzing with everything Terry Fox.”

While the $10,000 and the tattoo was the goal, it wasn’t the only motivation.

At an assembly to kick off the fundraiser, with Terry Fox’s brother Fred Fox in attendance, Casey led a school wide Zumba warm up with 80’s inspired Zumba dancers — a nod to Terry starting his run in 1980.

Then it got serious as the students were asked to identify ‘what cancer looks like.’

“It’s hard to get kids, sometimes, to own something, and we wondered how could we get them to own this,” Doerksen said. “We knew we wanted 100 per cent involvement and we knew to do that we needed them to physically see the impact cancer has had and still has on Chilliwack Secondary.

“So, in that assembly we asked them to stand up if they had a mom or dad who’s currently battling or has battled cancer, and a few stood up. We asked them to stand up if they had a sibling, an aunt or uncle, grandma or grandpa who was battling or had battled cancer and it ended up with the whole school standing.”

“From that point it was game on.”

Terry Fox fundraisers are usually held in the fall, but CSS switched to the spring a few years back, timing theirs around April 12, the date Terry started his cross-country run.

Heading into the wrap-up assembly/barbecue, Doerksen wasn’t yet certain they’d hit their goal.

“But in the morning, just prior to the assembly, we got word that we were at $10,900,” she said. “We still had the barbecue and some raffle baskets going on and that brought us over the $13,000 mark and Chris got the tattoo done, right there in the main gym.

“Whoever raised the most money got their initials on the tattoo. Erin (Gniwodda) had the highest total ($2,200) and she gifted the ‘tagging’ to senior boys basketball player Brandt Davies. So his initials, B and D, are on the tattoo and he was very emotional about it.”

Doerksen said the best part of the fundraiser was that it reached every corner of the school.

“It was a really cool event and I have no idea how we’re going to top it for next year,” she said. “We’ve kind of set the bar really high, but we’ve already got some ideas.

“It was a really interesting two weeks and it’s going to be different going back to ‘normal.’

“It was a very proud moment for our school.”

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