PRINCETON, ILL — Katrina Rudolph is on a mission to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.
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Reported by Goldie Rapp
To accomplish this, she’s been tasked with a service project geared toward solving a community issue.
So, Rudolph, a senior at Princeton High School in Illinois, has spent the last year planning and fundraising for Operation Courtyard — a project that will reduce stress of those being treated for cancer and remember those who lost their lives to the tragic disease.
Rudolph’s plans for Operation Courtyard consist of building a peaceful outdoor sitting area for patients receiving chemotherapy at the Valley Regional Cancer Center (VRCC) in Peru, Ill.
The courtyard will be placed underneath shade trees outside the facility and be built out of engraved bricks purchased by family and friends connected to those who have battled or are currently battling cancer.
“Right now, the chemo windows face the side of a Target building. All they can see is a big brown wall,” Rudolph said. “Now patients will get to go outside where they can look around and see down a road, a cornfield and a farm house off in the distance.”
Rudolph is only $2,000 shy of the $6,600 she’s raising for the courtyard. She is hoping to top off her goal at a local fundraiser in April. She said the fundraiser is an annual event aimed towards raising money for cancer patients. Rudolph plans to set-up a booth to showcase her project, in hopes to sell those last few bricks needed to complete the courtyard.
If she’s able to raise more money than her goal, Rudolph said she would put the extra funds towards purchasing a water fountain she’d have installed in a nearby waterhole. She said a fountain would add to the peaceful ambience.
“It’s so exciting to do this and have people who are excited about what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s not just me and my family who are really excited about this. It’s everyone else in the community who are excited.”
Rudolph is working on Operation Courtyard in honor of her grandfather, who battled Leukemia.
A little bit about Rudolph
Rudolph is known as a go-getter in her community. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand and never turns down an opportunity to volunteer. Rudolph is a high honor student in school and an athlete. She also plays in the school’s band/choir and volunteers her time at a nearby zoo. She hopes to one-day become a zoologist.
Along with her extra curricular, she’s been an active member in her local Girl Scout troop since kindergarten.
Over the years, she’s earned a plethora of patches, which are neatly displayed on her Girl Scout vest. She’s worked her way up the ranks to become an Ambassador Girl Scout — the highest-ranking scout.
At age 18, she’s serving her final year as a girl scout, but will continue to stand as an inspiration and strong role model for younger girls in her community.
Michell Heider, leader of Troop 1652 of Princeton, said Rudolph has never been afraid of taking the reins and tackling projects put before her.
“I’m super proud of her. I think our troop has a good reputation, because we continuously have girls who want to join us. They all look up to Katrina and all want to be like her,” she said.
Heider also works at VRCC and said a lot of patients are looking forward to seeing Operation Courtyard underway.
“It’s very important for them to see this done and we’re just all very supportive of Katrina,” she said. “It’s something the community needed and people wanted.”
The significance of Operation Courtyard
Karen Karczewski, Clinic Coordinator at VRCC, purchased the first brick for the courtyard in memory of her close friend who fought a noble fight, but in the end, succumbed to the cancer.
She explained how the courtyard would serve two purposes. For one, it will give patients another place to receive medical attention for melanoma cancer treatment, skin cancer treatments and many other types of cancer, other than just the clinic’s lobby.
“Now they will be able to feel the wind, hear the birds and enjoy nature around them,” she said.
And secondly, the courtyard it will serve as a memorial for those who have passed.
“This will serve as a place where we can gather and remember those who were close to us — whether it be a family member, a friend or a patient we cared for,” she said.
When the project will kick-off
Rudolph plans to start construction as soon as the ground thaws. She hopes to begin no later than April.
Prairie Nursery and Landscaping of Princeton, Ill will assemble the courtyard. Utica Garden Club of Utica, Ill plans to donate plants to spruce-up the area, and Master Gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension will provide a lending hand in laying the landscape.
Interested in donating?
Anyone can make a donation to Operation Courtyard. Those interested in purchasing a brick can find out more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” Operation Courtyard on Facebook.
Personal bricks can be purchased for $50 and business-sponsored bricks for $100.