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Whiz Kids: Island Avenue Students Raise Money For Peers Battling Cancer

Students practice math and make a difference in the lives of other children facing challenges at St. Jude's Children's Hospital

Name: Deana Perillo and the students who helped her raise money for the St. Jude Math-A-Thon

School: Island Avenue School

Accomplisment: There is a special place in Deana Perillo’s heart for the St. Jude Math-A-Thon.  Nice years ago while student teaching at Jerome Harrison School in North Branford she was introduced to this unique community service/fundraising program that combines math work with raising funds for children in need.

Now as a second grade teacher at Island Avenue School she has spearheaded the program for two years, raising over $10,000! “This year we had 100% teacher participation!” said Perillo. She set her goal at $2,500 and was thrilled to report that the school raised just over $7,000.

The Math-A-Thon program is open to students in grades K-8.  The participants receive a grade appropriate math workbook that they complete after obtaining sponsorships from family and friends.

St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee “is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay,” according to the official website.

Third grader Gabrielle Franks has participated both years.  “It’s really fun for a lot of us kids,” said Franks. “It’s fun that we’re raising money for kids that need medical help.  It’s really nice to do that!”

Over the last two years she has raised about $175.00. While some of the math problems were a challenge for Franks she asked for assistance from her parents and her older sister and brother.  She says finishing the packet and raising the money was a rewarding experience.  “We’re doing something for kids,” said Franks. “It feels good to help a person out!”

“This is something I have wanted to do for years,” said Perillo. Although her first introduction to the program was through Jerome Harrison School second grade teacher Jeanne Proto she found a more personal, intimate connection to it two years ago.  “A friend of mine, her son had cancer really young, he was under a year old when he was diagnosed,” said Perillo. “He didn’t go to St. Jude’s, he was able to stay local, but it’s just one of those causes that I think is really important.”

Since the research center relies on donations the Math-a-Thon is an important fundraising effort.  “The program is a great way for students to not only learn important math skills, but it is a wonderful way to reinforce the importance and social impact kids can have on the lives of others through volunteerism,”  said Chris Carkeet, Brand Manager, St. Jude Math-A-Thon.

"This was a fabulous way for students to practice math and make a difference in the lives of other children facing challenges at St. Jude's Children's Hospital,” said Ruth Rose, math specialist for Island Avenue and Ryerson Elementary Schools. “Deana has been instrumental in bringing the St. Jude's Math-A-Thon to students at Island Avenue School for the past two years and we're so grateful to her for that!"

Suzanne Zitser July 13, 2011 at 01:04 PM
Kudos to those teachers for making math fun and at the same time, a gift to some very needy children!
Sarah Page Kyrcz July 14, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I agree, Suzanne, this is the kind of projects we should be getting our children involved with more and more. It is good for them and for the people they are helping!

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