Central Elementary School raises $1,662 for fundraiser

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Its a yearly, school-wide effort at Central Elementary School where every penny counts and this year was no exception.

Submitted photo: Central Elementary School student Steven Torres is a spokesperson for the school’s annual fundraiser, Pennies for Patients, for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Torres is a leukemia survivor and has been in remission for eight years.

Students banded together over two weeks in February, searching under pillows, in between couch cushions and asking friends and family members for spare change.

In the end, students raised $1,662.86 for Pennies for Patients, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraising campaign used toward cancer research and patient services provided by the society.

“The thing I love about it is that even in such hard economic times, people are willing to help out others in need no matter what,” said the fundraiser’s organizer Elizabeth Cordova.

The campaign is a part of the society’s School and Youth Programs, where school-aged students raise funds for the society through a number of campaigns while learning about leukemia, according to the society’s website.

Over the past five years that special education teacher Cordova has organized the fundraiser, the school has raised $7,389.96 for the campaign, which is sponsored by the Friendship Club.

“The kids really, really enjoy doing it,” Cordova said. “We really get into it because its helping kids, but its also helping students that we know from Belen and one of our students within our school.”

Fifth-grader Steven Torres, a leukemia survivor, is a spokesperson for the fundraiser, and shows students that the money raised goes toward kids like himself, Cordova said.

Steven was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 1/2 years old. He underwent an intravenous chemotherapy treatment, lasting 96 hours for six months, before going into remission.

While receiving chemotherapy, Torres’ family received financial assistance from the society to pay for gas to and from doctor’s appointments and treatments in Albuquerque.

“It was a huge help,” said Torres’ mother, Wendy.

Posters of Torres’ story are hung up along school hallways throughout the fundraiser.

A school-wide presentation kicks off the event, in which Wendy uses visual cues, such as a skit, to illustrate what cancer and chemotherapy are, how they affected Steven and how his leukemia affected their family.

“I have Captain Chemo, who is Steven, to show what the chemo does … I explain when going through chemo, the chemo kills not only the bad cells, but the good cells, too,” Wendy said.

From there, students fill up small cardboard boxes with change, which they add into their classroom’s change box. The class that raised the most money won a pizza party.

Cordova said the fundraiser’s goal for next year is to out match the funds they raised this year.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.