Students at Elbridge Gale Elementary School set a goal to raise more than $25,000 to help fund blood cancer research and provide hope to thousands of patients and their families through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Pasta for Pennies program, presented by Olive Garden. The school set the goal so that it would be linked with an LLS-funded research portfolio. The honor of becoming linked with a research portfolio is awarded to top LLS fundraising supporters and includes recognition from LLS President & CEO Dr. Louis DeGenarro.
Elbridge Gale became involved with LLS after student Sebastian Sarmiento was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007. Sarmiento passed away in 2009. Again this year, Elbridge Gale has yet another student diagnosed with leukemia. Andrew Dawson is a first grader who is now in remission. He shared his experience with the entire school at a kickoff assembly held at the beginning of March.
Over the last month, students met and surpassed their goal by collecting more than $27,000 in support of LLS. Notable students Jaidyn Brody, Drake Brody and McKenna Wickers have led the fundraising efforts. Jaidyn managed to raise more than $8,000 this school year, while her brother Drake, a kindergartener, has collected more than $1,000 by asking for donations every week at Wellington Food’s Truck Invasion. McKenna’s annual “Lemons for Leukemia” event raised more than $800.
Once the school met its $25,000 goal, it set its sights on becoming the top school in the southeast. Out of the 9,000 schools across a nine-state region, Roswell High School in Georgia was the top school, raising $26,000. Last month, with this in view, Elbridge Gale students continued their efforts to take the regional title. Nationally, more than 28,000 schools participate in the LLS Student Series Programs. On May 2, Elbridge Gale learned they ranked in eighth place out of all the schools and earned the title of top school in Florida and the southeast.
In order to win that title, Elbridge Gale students rallied to raise an additional $1,200 over their initial goal. In addition to a highly successful Pi Day, where 500 students threw pies at 70 teachers and administrators, students and staff hosted chess tournaments, bakes sales, car washes, give-back events, a parent date night and dress down days.
On May 23, Olive Garden at Wellington Green will host the top fundraising students for a special celebratory luncheon and award presentation. LLS will present the school with a special Top Fundraiser Award. In attendance will be Sarmiento’s mother, LLS board members and representatives from the national offices of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“I am so proud of the hard work our students and staff have put into this cause,” said guidance counselor Nicole Martinez, who has coordinated the program over the last five years and has seen the school raise a cumulative $70,000 for cancer research.
“Thanks to research, nearly 90 percent of children with acute leukemia are now cured,” said Stacy Hewitt, Palm Beach senior campaign manager. “But there still is a long way to go. Leukemia affects more children than any other cancer, so LLS’s Student Series Programs provide a meaningful way for kids to help kids. Every penny really does make a difference.”
The programs are designed to teach children how to set and reach goals and the value of community involvement. Learn more at www.studentseries.org.