By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Every year, fourth- and fifth-graders at Fletcher Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda take to the streets for the traditional Turkey Trot, running a mile-long route for fun and exercise. But this year it was different.
This year, it was to help a friend.
An assembly and pep rally took place Friday at Fletcher Elementary, held in concert with a similar event at Mullen Elementary, to honor the winners of the Nov. 9 race and announce the amount of money raised by the entire student body to help offset the medical expenses of Mullen second-grader Julien Lamb, who is undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Enrichment teacher Kim Honeck said the idea to raise money with the traditional race came from the school’s focus on the “Leader in Me” habits, a district-wide initiative that aims to teach students the seven effective habits of highly successful children, including “think win-win,” being proactive, keeping a balance in life and more.
“We had the students find sponsors for the Turkey Trot, so it was like they were running a charity race,” Honeck said. “We said, ‘We don’t care if you’re the first person or the last person to cross the finish line.’ We wanted to work together as a team to help the family.
“We were going to be happy with $500 ... and our grand total was $5,789.10,” she said. “The kids took it and ran with it, literally. We were floored that they took it this far. It’s amazing.”
Friday’s assembly/pep rally honored race winners, fourth-graders Trinity Oliver and Hunter Hollock and fifth-graders Zoe Oliver and Dylan Bennett. The students had to guess in which order to put a series of numbered cards to learn how much money they raised.
A Skype link was set up with Mullen, where students raised more than $3,000 in a “Heroes Come in All Sizes” walk in October. They were joined by students from Riverview Elementary, who raised $550 in a penny drive.
Mullen Principal Jessica Lyons said she has also been contacted by the Tonawanda Middle School student council, which is going to hold a Pennies for Patients drive for Julien, and that a parent from her school is organizing a Dec. 8 basket raffle to benefit the family.
“It’s the whole city coming together,” Lyons said. “It’s amazing.”