Thanks to the leadership and vision of Central Hardin High School senior Isabelle Hobbs, more than $9,600 was raised for the University of Louis­ville Department of Pe­di­atric Oncology and Hem­a­tol­ogy. Hobbs spearheaded a fundraising campaign and dance event Sept. 20 at Central Hardin called raiseRED.

“That was by far the pinnacle of my high school career so far,” Hobbs said, describing the feeling of raising thousands for the department.

Originally a student-led cam­paign at U of L, Hobbs said Cen­tral Hardin was the seventh high school in the state to organize its own raiseRED event. The U of L campaign includes an annual 18-hour dance marathon on campus. High school raiseR­ED is shorter, with Central Hardin’s being eight hours long.

A similar annual campaign takes place at the University of Kentucky, known as Dance Blue.

While studying at Eliza­beth­town High School during her freshman and sophomore years, Hobbs helped organize Dance Blue events at school. She said she originally wanted to host a Dance Blue event at Central Hardin, but after realizing that three students at the school were being treated at U of L, she decided to organize a raiseRED event instead.

For Hobbs, rasing money for cancer research is a personal cause. Hobbs said she recently lost a family friend to cancer who was 26.

“I just decided I should really get into this,” she said.

Since it’s a student-led campaign, Hobbs recruited fellow Central Hardin Beta Club mem­bers to help organize the project and raise money. She said she also approached teachers about recruiting volunteers for the project in order to have diverse participation. Hobbs said about 150 students took part in the event.

“We had kids from all grade levels, all different interests and it worked out beautifully,” she said.

Each hour of the event focused on a different theme such as zumba, throwbacks and Disney music. In addition, a different speaker would give a testimony each hour. Speakers included cancer patients and survivors, some of whom were Central Hardin students and alumni. Participants would take a knee each time a speaker gave their testimony, Hobbs said.

“It was very shaking but also powerful and it made me know that it was worth doing what I did,” Hobbs said. “Everybody working on raiseRED put so much time into it.”

Hobbs said she hopes the event becomes an annual tradition at Central Hardin and continues long after she graduates.

“As soon as it was over, people were already talking about next year and asking how they can be involved in helping with it,” she said. “I hope it becomes even bigger.”

Central Hardin teacher Susan Sherrard said Hobbs’ en­thu­siasm in organizing raise­RED was inspiring.

“She is a role model for sure, an example of how far an act of kindness can go,” Sherrard said. “I feel like she has planted a seed that will keep growing and extend throughout our community and beyond when all of these young people remember this experience and make a difference in their own ways throughout their lives.”

In addition to her involvement in Beta Club, Hobbs also takes part in Executive Council at Central Hardin and serves with the youth group at St. James Catholic Church in Elizabethtown. Hobbs stays busy outside of school too by working at Dewster’s Homemade Ice Cream and Bakery.

Over the summer, Hobbs took part in the Governor’s Schol­ars Program at Morehead State University, studying psychology. She said she hopes to study psychology in college, specializing in pediatric eating disorders.

Central Hardin teacher Leann Blair said regardless of Hobbs’ next move, she has left a legacy of kindness at the school.

“What I like most about Isabelle is her heart,” she said. “She is kind. It’s something so easy to do but she does it so well. I am proud to know Isabelle.”

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.