Community Invited to Thursday Dinner to Help LAHS Teacher Joy Handsberry’s Battle With Cancer

Joy Handsberry, left, with fellow LAHS math teacher Judy Nekimken at a LAHS anti-smoking event in March. Nekimken is one of the organizers of upcoming events to support Hansberry in her battle with cancer. Photo by Bernadette Lauritzen


Thursday, members of the Los Alamos High School Key Club and the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos will host a dinner to raise money for LAHS math teacher Joy Handsberry, as she undergoes chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

The fundraiser is 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday at the Christian Church, 92 East Road. The dinner includes spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, lemonade, iced tea and a cookie for a donation determined by the giver.

Handsberry grew up in Delaware, completed college in Virginia and then decided to head to somewhere very different and New Mexico fit the bill. While her plan may have been to stay a few years and head back east, she loved LAHS so much that she’s been here for 23 years.

“I am indeed mighty excited about the dinner,” Handsberry said. “I’m actually still in disbelief that the students wanted to organize it for me. Such an unbelievable gesture of love and support coming from the students I care so much about is a truly wonderful feeling.”

Student organizers include Emily Pittman and Emma Lathrop, who along with LAHS staff member Judy Nekimken and a band of merry makers who have a series of fun events planned this week.

“The dinner gives me a terrific boost emotionally, and the funds raised will be such a great help financially,” Handsberry said.

Nekimken has organized a dunk tank for Thursday, at lunch, when staff members will voluntarily get dropped into the drink to raise funds and spotlight the dinner, later in the evening.

Nekimken and her math mates have sold pink t-shirts to students and staff in support of Handsberry and have hooked volunteers into donating homemade desserts to be auctioned off as part of the dinner event on Thursday.

“I must say that the superb Judy Nekimken has spearheaded so many of the awesome events on my behalf that I can’t possibly ever thank her enough,” Handsberry said. “She is one of the finest human beings walking this planet, and she is doing everything she can to will me through this ordeal.”

The pink t-shirts, worn on designated days, have a secret message screen printed into the inside of the shirt. One only needs to ask the wearer to see. Additional mood lifting activities include “Hats for Handsberry, generally taking place on Thursdays, and a coffee fundraiser done by Lynn Ovaska and some of her senior students.

This group of student travelers is globally-minded and decided to sell organic, Fair Trade coffee, to help raise funds to take themselves and Handsberry to Europe as a celebration to mark the end of her chemotherapy.

The 10-ounce bag, whole bean or ground, in French Roast, Dark Roast, Medium Roast and Decaf is selling for $12 and the label was designed by LAHS student Caroline Schramm. Those interested in purchasing coffee may call Ovaska at 505.663.2580.


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