Catawba to spotlight childhood cancer

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 23, 2016

SALISBURY — Windows in Catawba College’s Robertson College-Community Center will be lighted gold this Saturday in a show of support for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The Catawba College Blue Masque will light the College-Community Center in remembrance of Odin Dougherty, the late son of Catawba theater arts professor Erin Dougherty and husband Colin Dougherty. Odin Baer Dougherty died April 29, 2015 after an 18-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a highly aggressive brain tumor found at the base of the brain. Born May 28, 2011, he passed when he was only 3 years and 11 months old.

This project is spearheaded by Catawba student Caleb S. Garner of Robbins, a senior bachelor of fine arts in design and production and bachelor of arts theatre education major. Garner and the Blue Masque hope that they can raise awareness of the types of cancer that largely affect children through the lighting of the college-community center.

“It’s incredibly humbling to have been asked to assist,” Garner says. “This is more than just throwing some lights on a building. We’re trying to raise awareness so that others will see just how real childhood cancer is. With that awareness comes hope, and hope is what continues to drive the families who are affected by cancer daily. We are preserving the memory of Odin and all of the other children who have fought – and are fighting – the battle against childhood cancer.”

The Blue Masque hopes that “going gold” will serve as a means of supporting the awareness effort of the American Childhood Cancer Organization. The organization (formerly known as Candlelighters) was founded by a talented and committed group of parents whose children were diagnosed with cancer at a time when surviving childhood cancer was nearly impossible.

According to the organization, 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States. Approximately one fourth of those will not survive the disease. Unlike many adult cancers, childhood cancers are not linked to lifestyle factors, which rules out proactive measures to prevent cancer cell development in children.

For more information on childhood cancer or Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit