By donating pocket change or giving $5 for the privilege of playing an iPod during class, Genoa Middle School students have raised $111,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
For the last 13 years, students and teachers at Genoa have participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients campaign, which encourages schools to raise money for children with cancer.
The school organized different incentives to boost interest and donations, such as teachers paying $5 to wear sweatpants to school or classrooms competing to raise the most money and win a class pizza party.
"This year, our biggest fundraiser was Teachers Wear Sweatpants to Work Day," said Principal Victoria Alamo.
The school raised $8,249 this year, making it the third-highest fundraiser in the society's central Ohio chapter.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helps families and patients suffering from various blood cancers by providing support, financial assistance and educational resources.
Genoa students attended an assembly Thursday, May 22, and met Powell native Evan Schroeder, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 at the age of 2. The school's donations helped the Schroeder family by providing co-pay assistance, support and educational materials.
Evan's mother, Lori Schroeder, was touched by the students' donations and interest in her son's story.
"I think it is awesome when kids do anything to help someone beyond themselves," Schroeder said. "I think it's good for society."
Evan, now 8, struggled through some complications after a bone marrow transplant, but is now a healthy kid who enjoys playing video games and is excited to visit the beach this summer.
There are many cancer-support organizations, but this project hits close to home for the Genoa community. Intervention specialist Jenny Scherer said leukemia has affected several students and families, including Alamo, who lost her father to the disease.
Alamo said Pennies for Patients is a good campaign for her students because it is geared toward children and educates them about the types of cancer. Students also learn selflessness and what it means to give back, she said.
"Fundraisers like this allow them to see how good it is to help somebody out," Alamo said.
Next year, the school aims to raise $10,000.
"We want to be No. 1 in central Ohio again, or the state really," Scherer said.