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Pennies For Patients Plentiful

Colby Colbertson is the picture of health, but he knows noteveryone is so fortunate.

So, when Brookhaven Academy began its intra-school Pennies forPatients competition to raise money for the Leukemia and LymphomaSociety, the 15-year-old freshman raided his personal money jar andcame up big for the cause.

“It had to be somewhere around $400 from my savings account,”Colbertson said. “I really wanted to win – I get really competitiveabout it and it’s for a good cause. There’s a lot of kids who don’thave the same privileges as we do, and any time we can help them,I’m all about it. It brings joy to my heart.”

Apparently, raising money in the fight against cancer touches alot of hearts in Lincoln County.

The academy and six other schools in the city and countydistricts raised more than $17,700 for LLS during the three-weekdrive, and one local school has yet to begin its campaign. Thecountywide total represents a little better than 8 percent of thefunding expected from the entire state this year, where 310participating schools are aiming for a $200,000 contribution to thesociety.

“Lincoln County is the most phenomenal county in the state,”said Sharon Dischner, the donor development manager for theMississippi and Louisiana chapter of LLS.

The numbers raised in the county are quite impressive. Dischnervisited BA Wednesday to pick up the ceremonial check thatrepresents the academy’s county-leading $6,308 donation, and otherschools are close behind. The students at Bogue Chitto AttendanceCenter turned in more than $3,800 to the society, while theirfriends and competitors at nearby Enterprise Attendance Center beatthe $3,000 mark.

West Lincoln Attendance Center raised better than $2,750, andBrookhaven Elementary pulled together a shade under $1,000. LipseySchool contributed $561, and Alexander Junior High laid its own$187 on the table.

Dischner said fundraising for cancer research is so successfulin Lincoln County because awareness here is high.

Bogue Chitto’s Felder Sartin is perhaps the county’s best-knowncancer patient and his parents, Gareth and Jessica Sartin, beat thedrum loudly to support research and related institutions like theBlair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Gareth is a coach at BogueChitto, motivating students at Bogue Chitto and Enterprise – twoschools always looking to top the other.

“Next year we’ll have an intense competition with Bogue Chitto,”said Kim Nelson, the librarian at Enterprise, where studentsaveraged raising $1,000 per week. “We’re all neighbors with BogueChitto – I grew up with Jessica. We use that rivalry to ouradvantage.”

Another reason Pennies for Patients is successful is because,for students, it turns out to be a pretty fun competition. At BA,the effort to raise money turned student against student and classagainst class, with a pizza party and pride waiting for thewinners.

“It’s a class war,” said BA counselor Teresa Reed. “You get onepoint for each cent collected, but turning in paper money causespoints to be deducted. On the last day they sabotaged each otherand dropped paper money in each other’s boxes. A $100 bill takesaway 10,000 points, and we counted about seven $100 bills in thetotal.”

Such antics and slyness went a long way toward making BA’s$6,300 donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a staterecord, the school’s second.

But the next challenge begins Thursday, when Loyd StarAttendance Center kicks off its own Pennies for Patients challenge.If Loyd Star follows the robust example set by the rest of LincolnCounty’s schools, the county total could very well top $20,000 – 10percent of the statewide goal.