Taft principal challenges students at cancer research fundraiser


Taft High School principal Mark Grishaber challenged students at a recent fund-raiser for cancer research.

“My dare to you is to change people’s lives,” Grishaber told 300 students at an annual fund-raiser at Northside Prep High School for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “One person can make a difference.” Grishaber recently underwent treatment for leukemia.

Grishaber recalled the time in high school when he intervened on behalf of a student who was being bullied. “My first response as a kid was, ‘I’m glad that wasn’t me,’” he said.

Grishaber said that while the bullies posed no physical threat, his classmate later told him, “I was afraid what I was going to do to myself when I got home,” and thanked him for saving his life.

Grishaber said that his cancer has reinforced to him the importance of helping others and being close to family members. “I feel blessed that I got this disease,” he said.

Grishaber said that his father recently died but that he had an important last visit with him. “I told him that I loved him,” he said. “That was the first time that I ever told him in my life.”

Grishaber encouraged students to drop in an occasional “I love you” to their parents because it could make a difference in their lives.

Grishaber said that good wishes that he received from Taft students helped him get through his 40-day hospital stay and that he had a smile on his face when he saw students from Young High School, where he once was an assistant principal, waving to him from outside the hospital.

Grishaber’s cancer is in remission, and he expects to return to Taft for part-time duty in the second week of March.

Northside Prep senior Samir Al-Ali said that he came up with the idea for the fund-raiser 3 years ago after learning that his future sister-in-law, who was a graduate of the school, was diagnosed with leukemia. “The first year we raised more than $1,000,” Al-Ali said. “Ten teachers had their heads shaved.”

In addition to raising money, the event is intended to promote cancer awareness. “It’s one of the things in life that can affect anyone any time,” Al-Ali said.