For 10 years, the students of Elbridge Gale Elementary School in Wellington have rallied as only the young and energetic can to battle an unlikely foe — blood cancer.
This year marked a decade of the students participating in the Student Series Pennies for Patients program, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Palm Beach Area Chapter. In 2018, they raised more than $10,000, all while having a ton of fun.
On March 15, the students put their teachers and administrators to the test during the annual Pie Day. Students paid $10 to “pie” a teacher, $20 for the assistant principal and $30 for the principal.
“This was our fourth annual Pie Day, so our kids look so forward to this event every year, and now it runs like such a well-oiled machine,” said Nicole Martinez, guidance counselor at Elbridge Gale Elementary School and Pennies for Patients coordinator. “We all try to have fun with it, as we know what an amazing cause it supports. The kids think it’s the best thing ever when they get to pie their teachers.”
Since 2008, the Elbridge Gale students have also held dress down days, bake sales and skate nights to support blood cancer patients and their families. During that time, the students have raised more than $100,000 total, one penny at a time.
“We are truly grateful to the students and faculty of Elbridge Gale Elementary School through our Pennies for Patients campaign. Their commitment to instilling leadership and support for those fighting cancer will add tremendously to our mission to find cures for blood cancers,” said Pamela Payne, executive director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Palm Beach Chapter.
Students of other Wellington-area schools also accepted the challenge to raise as much money and awareness as they could during the month of March in small, yet meaningful ways. By collecting the smallest dominator of U.S. currency, they raised thousands of dollars. Three schools challenged each other to a “Penny War” among the students and staff of the Renaissance Charter School at Wellington, the Renaissance Charter School at Cypress and the Renaissance Charter School at Palms West.
The Renaissance Charter School at Wellington emerged victorious, collecting $2,281.82 in donations in three weeks. An award ceremony and check presentation was held on March 27 with Principal Mary Beth Greene; Karla Santiago, administrative assistant to the Principal; and teacher Jessica Fischer, the school’s Pennies for Patients coordinator. Kindergarten and first-grade students were also in attendance.
Other participating Wellington schools included Binks Forest Elementary School, which has consistently raised between $4,000 and $6,000 for the past seven years, and Wellington Elementary School, where students finished strong this year by doubling the amount they raised in 2017.
This year, the local LLS chapter was able to partner with the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center. With 138 pediatric beds, it is the largest children’s hospital in Palm Beach County. With its award-winning pediatric emergency department, special surgical care unit, prestigious pediatric cancer program and comprehensive outpatient centers, it is committed to area children. Additionally, the hospital has a dedicated team of child life specialists. These highly trained professionals use various medical play tactics and kid-friendly language to help children of various age groups understand why they need medical treatment, while also guiding parents on how they can help their child feel more relaxed during a hospital stay.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.lls.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.