by Tammy Sakry
For one week, Ramsey Elementary School students scraped together their pennies and asked their parents for spare change.
In the end, they raised $3,472.31 during their Pennies for Patients drive Feb. 21-24.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fund-raiser was inspired by two Ramsey students, who fought their battles against acute lymbastic lymphoma (ALL).
In July 2010, Karolyn Barrett, now a first-grader, was running a low-grade temperature.
“I brought her to the doctor’s because I thought it was an ear ache,” said mom Tammy Barrett.
But the diagnosis was more serious. It was ALL, the most common cancer in children.
Looking back now, there were little signs like having to treat her asthma more often and when her older brother Tommy would touch her she would say “Ow. You hurt me,” Tammy Barrett said.
Although all indications were there that Karolyn’s joints hurt, she never complained of pain, she said.
After nearly two years of chemotherapy treatments, Karolyn is in the final stage of her treatment and is expected to be done in November.
It was really exciting that Ramsey Elementary School would do this type of fund-raiser, said Tammy Barrett.
The Barrett family helped representatives from the LLS kick-off the Pennies for Patients Feb. 21.
The family gave a PowerPoint presentation, a photo slideshow and talked about their struggles with ALL.
Being able to do something for the cause is very rewarding, Tammy Barrett said.
It was nice that her school would do something like this, Karolyn said.
Second-grader Raina Roe does not remember much of her battle with ALL, which started when she was three.
She was very listless and didn’t want to play or eat, said mom Amanda Roe.
After seeing raindrop-like bruises on Raina’s legs, her parents took then-toddler to see the doctor.
Raina was diagnosed with ALL in May 2007.
For two and half years they went to the Children’s Hospital in St. Paul where Raina endured various type of chemotherapy.
Raina is now in complete remission, Roe said.
Having the students do a penny drive shows “my community is concerned and willing to raise money to find better solutions and (treatments),” she said.
The goal was to collect a dollar from each student, said Paige Warner, Ramsey Elementary third-grade teacher and event organizer.
But it was not just pennies or dollars that came in. There were $10 and $20 bills as well.
Although the fund-raiser ended Feb. 24 with $3,355.04 raised, another $117.28 was donated Feb. 28.
Tammy Sakry is at email@example.com