Kids In Lidz

How one high school senior is making a big difference


Photo by W. Rollins

Julia Graham (12) speaking at her spaghetti dinner.

Ansley Dantin, Variety Co-Editor/ Social Media Coordinator

Julia Graham (12) has been raising money for kids with cancer since elementary school. Her fundraiser is called The Annual Spaghetti Dinner. It is a sit-down dinner where guests come and donate, enjoy a spaghetti dinner and hear a guest speaker. Graham partners with the Spartanburg Breakfast Optimist Club to put on the dinner and donate the money to Children Cancer Partners of the Carolinas.

In 2020, Graham’s fundraiser was cancelled one week before the dinner because of Covid-19. In 2021, she was unable to hold a dinner because of Covid, but she still wanted to raise money. Children Cancer Partners has a fundraiser where they partner with schools to hold a hat day.  Graham got in contact with a team member to sponsor a hat day at SHS. That first year, SHS raised $1000 for the cause.

Last year, Graham was able to have both a hat day and a dinner. Almost $2,000 was raised after a successful hat day at SHS, and the biggest turnout at the Spaghetti Dinner until 2023. The SHS Jazz Combo provided entertainment for the dinner.

This year’s fundraiser was on Friday, Mar. 24th. The dinner was held at the Church of the Advent where the SHS Jazz Band once again provided entertainment and 130 guests attended, which is the biggest turnout yet.

Jackson Hall (12) is part of the Jazz Band and helped Graham’s cause with his musical talent. He describes the experience as one that brought him great joy.

“I enjoyed being able to play music for others at Julia’s fundraiser dinner. It makes me happy that I could use my talent to help her out with such a good cause. There’s nobody like Julia Graham,” Hall said.

Graham also planned the Kidz in Lids Hat Day again, and this year it was a district wide event with 10 schools participating. She got clubs involved at SHS in order to boost the school’s involvement, and SHS raised over $1,100 alone. District Seven raised over $3,500 and the Spartanburg Breakfast Optimist made a donation of $2,500, making the grand total almost $10,000. This year, Graham spent hours working to have a successful fundraiser, and the time she spent will go towards children fighting for their lives.

Ansley Vereen (12) is a friend of Graham who enjoys the effort and dedication shown from the Spaghetti Dinner and hat day.

“I think it’s a really cool how she’s been doing it for so long and each year it grows,” Vereen said. “I also think it’s really nice way to bring the community together because at the dinner there were people from school and strangers. They were all there to support the cause.”

Over the years, Graham has raised thousands of dollars for kids with cancer. However, in the fall of 2021, Graham herself experienced chronic stomach pain and after many doctors’ visits, hospital admittances and missed days of school, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

“For so many years, I raised money for sick kids my age, but for the first time I found myself in a situation where I was the sick kid,” Graham said. “The adversity I faced last year was something that no one should go through, and I saw just a glimpse into what the life of a cancer patient is like. No one deserves to grow up being sick, and I hope the money I raise can make someone’s situation less stressful financially and help them focus on getting better.”