Danielle Bender’s Third Graders Raise Over $700 for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Third graders at Mayo Elementary School raised $787 for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig‘s disease. The students are in Danielle Bender’s reading class. The funds were raised as part of a Valentine’s Day candy gram sale. The proceeds will go to the 4 Pete’s Sake Foundation. 

The candy grams were delivered on Valentine's Day.

The candy grams were delivered on Valentine’s Day.

Bender said that the fundraiser started off as a reading assignment. Students read a biography of Lou Gehrig, the Yankees first baseman who was sidelined in his baseball career in 1939 by the degenerative disease. Gehrig died from complications of it in 1941.

One of her students, Nick, said, “the first part, how you know you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, is that you get weak. Lou Gehrig first knew something was wrong when he spilled hot coffee on his hand and he didn’t feel it. Then, he fell down the stairs.”

Bender said that her father in law is suffering from ALS, and one of her students’ grandfathers passed away from the disease a few years ago. The students read the biography, then talked about different people who make a difference. Since the ALS story had a direct connection to people in the classroom, they were motivated to take action.

Another student, Leo said, “my grandfather had ALS. My grandmother started a foundation for ALS. We raised money for that.”

The kids came up with a few options for a fundraiser, to do a car wash, bake sale, the candy gram sale and a few other things. Baking posed a problem due to food allergies. Weather made the car wash difficult to pull off. Candy gram won the day.

Kira, another student, said, “our fundraiser was a candy gram. It was a lollipop with a note stuck on it. You buy them for your friends and we delivered them.”

Skye said that the students sold the candy grams at a table during lunch. “We got more than our goal,” he said.

The candy grams sold for a dollar apiece, which included the note, lollipop and Valentine’s Day delivery.

Here are some other comments from Bender’s reading students about the fundraiser and what they learned about ALS as part of the project:

  • Niko: “ALS makes your muscles weaker. It could make you have to use a wheelchair and use a computer to talk.”
  • Jake: “You have to go in a wheelchair and you will only last for a couple of years.”

    Danielle Bender's 3rd grade reading class.

    Danielle Bender’s 3rd grade reading class.

  • Lilly: ALS affects your muscles and sometimes your tongue. Your tongue is a muscle and so you can’t speak. Sometimes you have to stare at letters on a computer to speak. It can kill you. You only last a couple of years.”
  • Sean: “You have to get in a wheelchair.”
  • Bridon: “ALS was named after Lou Gehrig.”
  • Jahari: “There’s no cure for ALS. Doctors are working on it. It doesn’t spread. It comes out of nowhere.”
  • Haly: “Kids cannot get it. It seems like mostly men get it.”

Principal Kirk Gruebel said, “the powerful component of this was that it had a personal connection for the students,” he said.  Gruebel said that he bought candy grams for all of the teachers in the building to support the cause.

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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