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Moved by a teacher’s story about her father’s struggle with cancer, elementary students at Carrollton Classical Academy raised more than $7,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Third grade teacher Kristi Allen described her father’s experience as a young man to the students at the beginning of the year.  

“My dad was diagnosed with stage four non-hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was in college. The doctors told him that he had a week to live, and that if he did recover he had a 0.1% chance of having kids. Years later he had me and my sister. Because of that these types of organizations are very important to me and my family. It really warms my heart to see my students giving so freely,” she said.

Hearing her story helped fourth grade student Claire Wilhite personally connect with the fundraiser.

“Last year, I was in Mrs. Allen’s class. At first I didn’t know why she donated so much money, but now I know it was because her dad had leukemia. She told the school there was a good chance her dad couldn’t have had kids. She was about to cry because she was sad, but he lived through that and had two kids. It really made me feel great to know I was helping out people like her,” said Claire.

Melanie Williams, Assistant campus director at Carrollton Classical Academy,  believes programs like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student Series play an important role reinforcing positive character traits.

“It is really beneficial for the kids to see that their money can help other people. Their money doesn’t just have to go towards things they want. We had one kid ask if he could donate the family coin jar and his mother told him it had to be his money. So he said you are right, and gave his own money. What we are hoping for is that it isn’t just the parents giving money, but the kids themselves are possibly giving up something they want to buy to donate money,” said Ms. Williams.

This is Carrollton Classical Academy’s third year to participate in the program. When they first started it was called Pennies for Pasta. Starting with a kick-off rally where the students hear from other children their age with leukemia or lymphoma. The rest of the year students bring in money to their class and participate in different events to raise money such as Crazy Hat Day or Weigh it Wednesdays. Each class has a thermometer in the hallway to track its progress. The class that raises the most money gets to have a pasta party hosted by Olive Garden.

Every grade level in the school from Kindergarten to fifth grade participated. This year in third place Mary Polglase’s fourth grade class raised $829.58. Tiffani Hall’s fifth grade class placed second with $898.67. Raising $1,172.66, Mrs. Allen’s third grade class placed first.

Last year, Claire was in Mrs. Allen’s class that won the pasta party by raising over $1,000. At the pasta party she got to talk to McKenna  a local third grader with leukemia.

“I  got to know McKenna. She and I have matching bracelets now. She told us about how it is hard having leukemia, but that she knows everyone is helping her,” said Claire.

This year, fifth grade student Matt Ewy decided to donate all his money.

“I thought it was fun to donate my own money to help find a cure and support people who have cancer. I gave my Christmas and birthday money. It just popped into my head as something I should do,” said Matt.

Claire’s twin brother Cole says it is important to help in any way you can even if you have limited resources.

“I thought it fun to help people with cancer. Even if you don’t have money to donate and your parents don’t have money, you can ask other people. We asked our neighbors, our mom’s work friends and our family. Some said yes and some said no,” said Cole.

With a successful year behind them, the students are all looking forward to the challenge next year.

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