Danville Middle School students ‘Think Big’ for pediatric cancer patients, families | News

DANVILLE — High school students in Danville were patriotic last week, jocks and twins, dressing up for fun and something more serious.

The students held their annual Spirit Week fundraiser for the ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund to provide financial assistance to the families of pediatric cancer patients. The fund, founded in 2014 by the pediatrician Dr. Colby Wesner and other volunteers, helping families in Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania. Wesner, currently on the pediatric staff at Mount Nittany Health, will continue to serve as ThinkBIG board chairman.

Marcie Kitka, a high school health and physical education teacher, said the school raised $800 in 2019, before COVID-19 wiped out last year’s fundraiser.

“My goal this year is $1,000,” Kitka said.

None of the money donated goes to research or to the hospital. Instead, Kitka said, the fund helps families whose children are undergoing cancer treatment cover daily expenses, pay their mortgages and other bills, so they can focus on the family and their child’s healing.

Eighth-grader Madison Merrell, 14, was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, khaki, hat and sunglasses on top of the hat, with Hawaiian leis draped around her neck and a hula hoop tucked under her clothes, during “Hula’s and Hawaiians” on Wednesday last week .

“A lot of kids have dressed up in their outfits today,” Madison said.

Emily Seymour, 13, another eighth-grader, was dressed almost identically to Madison.

“I also like Twin Day,” she said.

She referred to Twin Tuesday during Spirit Week. That followed America Monday, when students dressed in patriotic clothes or colors. Thursday was Favorite Team Thursday, when the students wore their favorite sports team logo or shirt, and Friday was Ironmen Pride Day, a day to wear the school colors orange and purple or the Danville Ironmen logo.

“The Kindness Club collected donations of snacks and coffee,” said Stephenie Butler, school counselor. “Triple Play donated Ironmen Pride gear. T-shirts, hats and masks.”

The high school principal David Snover said the students and staff contributed money to participate in each day’s theme.

Today the fundraising continues with a dodgeball tournament. Students form 10 to 15 teams of eight players each.

The teams have to pay to play. Other students can pay to watch the tournament, Snover said.

A walkathon was also planned for the students who do not want to play dodgeball.

Emily said she’s not playing dodgeball, but will watch.

“I’m cheering for Team Maddie,” she said.

Class Acts is a weekly feature that highlights students, faculty, programs, and projects in Valley school districts. Email suggestions for future stories to news@dailyitem.com.

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