Sweet Success: Fox students join fight to cure childhood cancer

The entire Fox Township Elementary school has joined together in finding a cure for childhood cancer, embarking on the Alex's Lemonade Stand project to raise money and awareness of childhood cancer causes."We decided to participate in the project in honor of Connor (Bobik)," explained fifth grade teacher and project organizer, Amanda Vollmer. "Now our efforts are focused on awareness, specifically the cause and finding a cure."In February 2011, the school and surrounding community mourned the loss of five-year-old Connor, who passed away from childhood brain cancer. Connor touched the lives of all those around him as a kindergarten student in Mrs. Phillipone's class. His mom, Diane, is a second grade teacher at Fox and his older brother Aidan is a second grade student there.As part of the two-week long Alex's Lemonade Stand project, students may bring in any monetary donation for lemonade on May 10, 12, 17 and 19. These students will receive a sticker to wear on their shirt each day they donate. Student volunteers will distribute lemonade in the cafeteria to all students wearing a sticker.Vollmer noted the public may purchase lemonade during the school's book fair this evening from 6-8 p.m. Donations in any amount are also being accepted. Checks should be made payable to "Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation" and delivered or dropped off at the school."When someone gets sick, you sometimes feel helpless and this is something we can do," added fellow organizer Noelle Petrosky, guidance counselor. "The kids are so involved and excited about this project. They have so much energy."On Friday, Fox Twp. Elementary kicked off their project during a special videoconferencing event. Fox was given a special honor as they were asked to host the videoconference, which featured 19 schools, including 11 in Pennsylvania and others in Ohio, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Taiwan. The three fifth grade video jockeys or "veejays" chosen from auditions to host the videoconference at Fox were Olivia Rawlings, Matt Krull and Kara Nissel. The trio dressed as superheroes in working with the event's theme, which was chosen based on a music video featuring superheroes by kids' music group Milkshake.During the videoconference, each school was given 45 seconds to introduce themselves. Fox Elementary chose a unique greeting by performing a flash mob dance: the entire student body gathered in the gym where they were led by Zoe Ehrensberger, who was dressed as a superhero and began the dance. Small groups of students joined Zoe as the routine moved along. Students remained in the gym where they watched the hour-long videoconference.Fox nabbed a Lemon Spirit Award, joining four other schools, for the overwhelming spirit they showed during the flash mob dance. Other schools included cheers, skits and poems as part of their introductions. Fourth grade teacher Lori Vosacek choreographed the flash mob routine. Other teachers helping with the project were Mrs. Yetzer, who made several signs, and Mrs. Gelsick and Mrs. Carnovale, who made lemonade pins. Two St. Marys Area High School students, known as a traveling tie-dye team as part of a community service project, visited the school prior to Easter break and helped each classroom create yellow and gray shirts. Vollmer explained they chose yellow for lemonade and gray for pediatric brain cancer awareness.Fox Elementary was one of six schools that submitted commercials about the project, with the theme "Make a Difference." Vollmer noted that Fox student Tyler Trunzo did an excellent job in editing the video.The commercials were aired during the video conference and may be viewed at http://video.magpi.net/videos/ under the Alex's Lemonade 2011 on the right-side menu.Also part of the video conference was a special message by Liz Scott, mother of Alexandra Scott, for whom the organization was named. She shared the story of "Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand." The conference also featured Mikayala Andrews, a young girl who spoke about her winning battle against childhood cancer.Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) has raised more than $40 million since it was founded in 2005. The Pennsylvania-based foundation was started after Alex died at the age of eight in 2004. She was diagnosed with childhood cancer prior to her first birthday.At age four, Alex set up a front-yard lemonade stand to earn money to help help find a cure for cancers afflicting children. She raised an astonishing $2,000 in one day. Alex continued setting up lemonade stands each year while fighting cancer. As news spread, people across the country and around the world were inspired to set up their own lemonade stands, donating their proceeds to her cause.Vollmer said they have been working on the event for three weeks. Throughout this time, a school-wide poster contest was held, with entries currently displayed in the gym hallway.Faculty and staff were each photographed making their best "sour face." Students can vote for their favorite sour face by placing coin donations in adjoining cans situated on a large display in the school lobby. The winner will be announced during the Friday, May 20 videoconference."It's not about the money. This has been such a positive team-building, school-building activity for everyone. Everyone has a common goal and everyone is passionate about it," Petrosky said.