Staff plans garage sale to help janitor Janet Johnson with fight against cancer

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Lead janitor Janet Johnson is home resting as she was recently diagnosed with a return of her cancer. She remains positive that she will beat the disease again. The high school faculty is planning several events to help rais money to help her with her fight against cancer. (Cassidy Doyle photo)

After being diagnosed with a second round of cancer, custodian Janet Johnson’s friendly face disappeared from school. Teachers and students knew something was missing. Not seeing her  face or hearing her warm voice inspired the staff to plan a community wide garage sale to help with Janet’s medical needs.

“When I heard her cancer was back, I thought we just needed to come together as a school and do something,” counselor Terri Vehon said. “She always helps everybody else so much we should help her.”

Vehon and English teacher Margaret Thomas organized the fundraiser after hearing about Johnson’s illness and absence from school. The garage sale will be held on the visitor’s side of Panther Stadium  April 2. from 8 am-4 pm. Community members can benefit from the fundraiser by getting rid of old belongings and finding new ones. All the earnings will all be donated to Johnson for whatever medical bills, procedures or medications she may need. After all she has done for the school, students and faculty feel obligated to support her.

“It was something that all teachers and staff can be a part of to show her we want to help,” Thomas said. “It is a time to pay it forward.”

Teachers, as well as students felt a hard blow when they discovered Johnson’s cancer returned after  a year of being clear from the disease. Principal and friend Mike Chrietzberg was saddened by the news and the “evil” thought of cancer attacking such a warm and loving person.

“It’s not fair, but obviously there must be a reason for this. Everything happens for a reason,” Chrietzberg said. “My final thought was that Mrs. Johnson’s going to beat this, be a survivor, be back with us full-time.”

After school hours, before school begins, and on the weekends, Johnson spends  her time at work. Whether it is cleaning the halls, setting up events or enjoying her time with co-workers and students, Johnson always wears a smile. She is known for keeping close relationships with students and faculty, but also putting effort into her job.

“Her memories all deal with the love that she gives to others. She is there in a minutes notice to all that need her- no matter if it is a student or an adult,” Thomas said. “It is hard to beat her heart; it is the heart of a “champion.”"

Those wishing to help raise funds for Johnson can donate household items for the garage sale as well as baked goods for concessions. They will also need people to help set up and take down things.  It they can not help with this they can also donate money and get students and their families involved. The fundraiser will be advertised throughout the Southwest region and donations will be taken from anyone in the community wishing to donate to the cause. Vehon says her wish is that crowds  of people will be willing to help out and raise money.

“I hope that there are gobs of people and they can’t find a place to park!” Vehon said. “I really hope we have a good turnout not only from the school, but from the community at large that sees us wanting to help someone of our own. She’s not just Duncanville High School, she is part of our whole community.”

Aside from raising money and having a great turnout, the purpose of the garage sale is to help bring awareness to Johnson and her illness.

“We as individuals never know when this disease is going to hit our own family,” Thomas said. “Giving to others makes us aware of the everyday need, no matter how great or small, that we can help with.”

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