Counting for a Cure

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pennykids.jpgBy Victor Scott, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Pennies on Monday, nickels on Tuesday, dimes on Wednesday, quarters on Thursday and counting on Friday.

It's called "Coins for a Cause." Four times a year students at the Harrison Avenue Elementary School in South Glens Falls, N.Y., scour for loose change to bring to school for this fundraising tradition.

"Our 'Coins for a Cause' program is exciting not only because we're raising money, but also because it teaches our students to be caring, compassionate citizens," says Alissa Bevivino, student council sponsor.

For each of the four fundraising coin drives, members of the fifth-grade student council are encouraged to campaign for a cause they feel is important to support.

During the week of Jan. 31, 2011, the students collected $680 in coins and chose to honor their beloved former principal, Jim Baker, by donating to MD Anderson's lymphoma research.

Kids support search for a cure
In 2008, Baker was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma and began treatment at MD Anderson. The students' donation supports research led by Baker's physician, Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at MD Anderson.

"Receiving this donation from the students at Harrison Avenue Elementary School is such an honor," Kwak says. "Their dedication to supporting my research and paying tribute to their principal is truly humbling."

Mantle cell lymphoma is a challenging form of cancer, but Baker remains optimistic that the research his former students are helping fund will someday lead to a cure.

"My hope for the future is in the hands of researchers such as Dr. Kwak," Baker says. "And it's quite a big deal for kids to do what they did. It takes a lot of heart and a lot of caring. It's absolutely wonderful."

The Harrison Avenue Elementary staff shares that pride.

"Fundraising allows our students to be good students and good citizens," Bevivino says. "Hopefully those values will stay with them throughout their lives as they think back about how wonderful it felt to be able to donate."

Read about this topic and much more in the Annual Report issue of Conquest magazine.

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