When Taylor Desmet, a sophomore at Rogers High School, was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma in February, the honors student and active volunteer received overwhelming support from teachers, students and the community.
“It’s overwhelming, the response,” said Taylor’s mother, Janelle Tiegs. “It’s quite amazing. It’s quite a testament to the type of child Taylor is and the impact she has had on other people’s lives. She is so involved in the community and keeping those connections with people.”
Woodland Elementary, Ballou Junior High and Rogers, have all rallied around her. Collectively these three schools have raised thousands of dollars to support the 16-year-old.
In recent weeks, Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt on South Hill came forward to give Taylor a “sweet” opportunity — to create her own signature flavor.
Owner Manny Napoleon has promised that 75 cents of each sale of the ice cream will go directly to Taylor to support her ongoing medical fees and out-of-pocket costs.
On May 7, Taylor and her mother did just that. Located at Sub Zero’s catering office, Taylor and her mother worked together at picking the right combination of mixes and flavors.
At Sub Zero, there are more than 50 flavors to choose from. Napoleon said he continues to add flavors.
“I’m always thinking way out there,” Napoleon said.
For her signature ice cream, Taylor selected cotton candy premium ice cream with marshmallow cream, fruity pebbles and strawberries as mixings.
Tiegs said her daughter is a purist when it comes to ice cream flavors. Taylor said she only ever likes to eat vanilla or cookie dough.
“I like that comfort, knowing how it tastes ahead of time,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the cotton candy combination isn’t a flavor she would have normally tried.
“I’m happy I did,” she said. “I thought I would try something new. I thought it sounded good and it turned out well.”
Taylor’s signature flavor went on sale at the Sub Zero store last Friday. Napoleon said the flavor will be available indefinitely as will the proceeds from it to Taylor.
The Sub Zero store opened earlier this year. It’s a franchised operation that features a unique way of making ice cream, using liquid nitrogen 321 degrees below zero to flash-freeze the ice cream. Napoleon said the process makes for a smoother texture.
All ice cream is made to order for the customer.
“You can’t get anything better than this,” Napoleon said. “With us, you don’t have to settle with a flavor.”
In April, Woodland Elementary, where Taylor once attended, raised more than $6,800 through the sale of “Taylor Tough” white and pink T-shirts and neon green and pink bracelets.
Ballou Junior High, also where Taylor was a student, has raised more than $3,400 for Taylor through the sale of T-shirts and tickets to a fundraiser dance that was held in April on the campus of the school.
Rogers High School has contributed close to $500 through the sale of “Taylor Tough” shirts and bracelets. The students and staff are now preparing for a fundraiser, which will be a softball game from 4-6 p.m. at Heritage Recreation Center on May 22, adjacent to the school.
Taylor is hoping to be there, she said. She is also hoping that people taste her “Taylor Tough” ice cream at Sub Zero not only for the reason of donating money toward her.
“I want them to enjoy it and want to eat it because it tastes good,” Taylor said.
Taylor will complete her fourth week of aggressive chemotherapy on May 18. Her mother said doctors will check in eight weeks to see if the cancer is in remission.
Tiegs said so far treatment costs have surpassed $600,000.
“Any fundraising by Sub Zero and the schools will go toward our ongoing expenses,” Tiegs said.
Taylor said she is thankful for all the support from teachers, students and the community.
“They have all been really great,” she said.