Lakeview Students go to War Against Leukemia

penny warLakeview Penny WarPenny war

Lakeview Students go to War against Leukemia

A second grader is overwhelmed by the news her grade won the penny war

Lakeview Elementary Students Go To War Against Leukemia
Atikin, a first-grader at Lakeview Elementary School, is a sweet boy. But on Thursday, he had mischief on his mind. He and classmate CeCe were in the main office with bags of coins in their hands. “I’m sabotaging CeCe’s sister, and my brother,” he said, as he dropped nickels, dimes, and quarters into the row of buckets lined up on the counter in the school office.
This is, after all, war. A Penny War to be specific. 
Students at the school are competing to see who can raise the most money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society by filling the buckets – one for each grade – with pocket change. Each penny is a point. Nickels, dimes, and quarters take away points from the bucket they’re placed in. 
After CeCe and Atikin emptied their baggies of change, fellow first-graders Dora and Eliana filed in. They piled their pennies into the first-grade bucket but took their time deciding who to steal points from with their silver coins. 
“We’re bringing money from home and putting it in our bucket so we’ll win,” said Dora. “If you win, you get a pizza party,” Eliana chimed in, her face glowing at the prospect of the special lunch treat.
It was Angela LaRue, special education aid at Lakeview, who asked to start a penny war at the school. Her son, Daxton, an 11-year-old in the Racine Unified School District, was diagnosed with Leukemia – cancer of the blood – when he was just five years old. 
It was on a regular old Saturday that 5-year-old Daxton complained that his neck was hurting, LaRue explained, her hand touching the back of her own neck. The area Daxton complained about was swollen and red. Emergency room doctors couldn’t pin down what the problem was and sent the family home. A late-night message from an on-call doctor – left on LaRue’s voicemail – told them that Daxton had Leukemia and that he needed to go to the hospital. By that Tuesday it was confirmed. 
“Just panic,” LaRue recalled feeling. There was a blur of treatments - chemotherapy and steroids - that fought back the disease. Then after a time, it came back – and with it came more treatments. Daxton is “off-treatment” – that’s as close as LaRue is willing to go regarding Daxton’s cancer status. Every little kind of ache or bruise that might be part of everyday life for most children might mean cancer has returned for Daxton. 
LaRue pitched the idea of the penny war to the Student Council Advisors Nicole Paul and Sarah Hartung and to Principal Chris Sepersky. Sepersky held an all-school assembly with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to explain, in an age-appropriate way, how important it is to find a cure for the disease.
It’s important, LaRue said, because treatments like what Daxton received haven’t really changed since the 1990s. While it might have saved Daxton’s life, the steroids have affected his bones and will mean joint replacements early in his life. 
“The Leukemia Lymphoma Society provides funds for research, and research is needed for better treatments,” LaRue said. 
She’s been moved by the empathy and support she’s seen from the Lakeview school community. 
“By the end of the second day, two of the buckets were full,” she said. “The kids are very excited to bring their change in every day.” 
She’s right to be impressed. The students have blown through their fundraising goal. 
“Our original goal was to bring in $1,000 in two weeks,” Fifth Grade Teacher and Student Council Advisor Nicole Paul said. She and fellow advisor Sarah Hartung have organized the effort. “By the third day, we had $850,” Paul said. “Then we raised the goal to $2,000. After one week, $1,500 was raised."
On Thursday, May 26,  students filled the school gymnasium for the big reveal - how much money was raised and which grade won the pizza party. The cheers and shouts of joy exploded in the room when Sepersky revealed that the school had busted past it's $2,000 goal to raise $2,687.18 and that the second grade had pulled ahead in the context.
"We couldn’t be more proud of and thankful for our Lakeview community,” Paul said. "The empathy and caring this school and neighborhood has is amazing!"