After losing two friends to cancer, Katie Paquin, 17, of Red Oak, is dedicating her Girl Scouts Gold Award project to cancer awareness.

Paquin will hold a ceremony honoring cancer survivors and cancer victims from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Red Oak City Park. The ceremony will include a tree planting, music and a reading of names of cancer victims.

Paquin said that the idea of spreading cancer awareness came after her good friend Zachary Harris passed away after battling cancer when he was 14 and the passing of friend and Red Oak student Caitlin Kuykendall in December.

“I got attracted to (cancer awareness) when my best friend Zachary Harris died of cancer. He was 14 and I was 11,” Katie said. “One of my friends died of cancer this year - Caitlin.”

In honor of Harris and the many friends and family who have been affected by cancer, Katie has named her project “Zachary and Friends.”

“(The ceremony) will include planting a tree. It will have a little plaque, but I’m not sure what will be on the plaque yet,” Katie said. “Band members will also perform at the ceremony.”

Along with music from the Red Oak High School band, of which Katie is a member, Katie is working to get a choir to sing at the ceremony.

In order to host the ceremony, Katie relied on the generous donation of businesses as well as donations from participants in Ellis County Relay for Life. In order to raise money to pay for the event, Katie had a booth at Relay for Life where she sold flower seed packets, sold tickets for a football toss and handed out informational brochures. Westlake Ace Hardware in DeSoto donated 300 flower packets to Katie, the UPS store in Waxahachie donated some of the printing for the brochures and Brookshire’s donated candy for Katie’s football toss.

“I made brochures filled with information and it includes information on the different types of cancer in teens,” Katie said, adding that the she used the booth to advertise her ceremony.

Katie also collected a list of names of cancer victims at Relay for Life to read aloud at the ceremony.

“I have a lot of my fellow band members helping me and I have church friends who helped me and stayed with me all night at Relay,” Katie said. “I just want to honor those who have passed away because of cancer.”

After hosting the ceremony and receiving her Gold Award, Kati, with Troop 1628, will be the first Girl Scout from Red Oak to receive the Gold Award in about 10 years.

The public is welcome to attend the ceremony.

E-mail Mandy at mandy.bourgeois@elliscountychronicle.com.