Although Sammamish lost Ben Cushing last October, his legacy still lives on today.
The community is planning a May 15 fundraiser at Mod Pizza in Sammamish to raise money for research into the cancer that took the young Washington State University student’s life.
Eastlake High School alum Ben Cushing, 19, passed away Oct. 2, 2017 after battling hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. His family – mom, Alison; dad, Scott and sister, Emily – had devoted their time to looking for ways to fight the aggressive disease since he was diagnosed in January 2017.
The cancer is so rare, it’s generally considered incurable, as there is very little known about how to treat it.
But with each push for fundraising, scientists become closer and closer to potentially finding a cure.
In fact, it was Cushing’s dying plea to find a cure for the illness.
That’s why Mod Pizza has agreed to donate 20 percent of patrons’ bills on May 15 to funding research for treatment of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. It will be the second time they’ve hosted a fundraiser in Ben Cushing’s honor.
“They reached out again and said we’d love to do another one,” Amy Schmid, a friend and neighbor of the Cushings, said, noting last year’s fundraiser raised $1,200.
This year, the goal is to raise $3,000.
“Ben was nice to everybody in high school,” Schmid said, adding that her son went to Eastlake with him. “He always had a smile and something to say. He crossed over in all walks, all age groups – everybody kind of liked Ben.”
Although Cushing was only a freshman at Washington State University, his fraternity raised about $15,000 into a Cush it to the Limit Foundation, which was started to fund cancer research. So far, the foundation fund has over $180,000. When Cushing was hanging on to his last days, about 20 of his friends and fraternity brothers would visit him in the hospital with his best friend even taking off a semester of school to be with him.
“There are letters from 100s of WSU students sent to the fraternity on the walls,” Schmid said. “His celebration of life was attended by 700 people (or more), he made such a huge impact on so many at only 19 years old.”
A $2,500 scholarship will be available for an Eastlake High School student looking to go to Washington State University. The scholarship will be available on an annual basis.
“He was all about WSU,” Schmid said, noting he wanted to study business. “He had to leave school because he was ill and all he wanted to do was go back to TKE (Tau Kappa Epsilon).”
Although the Cushings are still grieving the loss of their son and brother, Schmid said Scott Cushing has a new job and his sister is getting her teaching credential and will be looking for an elementary school teaching job soon.
“The thing about the Cushings is, they will tell you their story,” Schmid said. “They spread their arms out and say prop us up, we’re having a bad day.”
To donate to Cush it to the Limit and help fund research for treatment of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, visit www.cushittothelimit.com or grab a slice of pizza on May 15 at Mod Pizza, 22833 NE 8th St. in Sammamish.