by Geoff Fox
Thirteen years ago, David “Doc” Holliday started a Pennies for Patients Campaign to help raise money to for leukemia, lymphoma, and cancer research.
In those 13 years, Hancock Elementary and Hancock Middle-Senior High School have combined to raise $25,022.88. Last year, they combined to raise $1,502.98, which was one of the first times they failed to meet their yearly goal. This year, Holliday said the goal is to raise $2,085.25.
Students at both schools will be collecting pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars, or more in currency or checks between December 3 and December 21.
A weekly grand total will be calculated to determine which class is most successful and to see which school is most effective in raising money for cancer research.
Each student in the classes giving the most money at each level will receive a Shives’ mini one-topping pizza.
Last Thursday, Holliday held two assemblies at the two schools to outline and discuss what the program was about.
During the assembly, he took two polls – the first question was if the students knew anyone who had passed away from cancer.
After the kids raised their hands, Holliday revealed his mother had died from cancer. He also noted when he started in Hancock schools in 2002, he found out a fifth grader, Rachel Divelbliss, had passed from leukemia. Four years later, Pennies for Patients was started.
He also asked if students knew someone in their family or friends who was battling cancer or in their lifetime, had a battle with cancer.
“All of you could have raised your hand on this one,” Holliday said after a small pause.
Holliday found out in September during a surgery that he has cancer.
“I am fortunate that it is in stage one,” he said. Holliday said he had his fifth of six treatments last Wednesday.
“I will continue to be poked and prodded for years to come to see if my cancer is getting worse or if it goes into remission or I’m cancer-free,” Holliday said.
Taylor Lipinski, a 2014 graduate of Hancock High School and a cancer survivor, wrote a letter to be included in the assembly. Due to her college schedule, Lipinski could not be at the assembly in person.
Lipinski was 14 years old and an eighth grader at Hancock when she found out she had cancer.
In her letter, Lipinski details how she found out she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and what she went through, including missing a year and a half of school.
“There were many times that I felt like I wanted to give up; however, I continued to fight,” she said in the letter. “Eventually, I overcame my battle.”
Lipinski completed her chemotherapy in May 2012 and on January 21, 2019, she will mark five years of her cancer being gone and will officially be cancer-free.
As someone who sat in the same seats at the first assembly for Pennies for Patients, Lipinski wrote from experience.
She said she knew many of the students sitting there were thinking they cannot make a difference in anyone’s life, “but I’m here to tell you that you can.”
By donating the pennies, Lipinski said the students are giving a child with cancer hope for a future.
“You all supported me when I was in need, and for that I will be forever grateful,” she said.
Lipinski added she has faith they’ll do the same for others by donating money to help find a cure for cancer.
“Never take any day for granted, love with all of your heart, and remember that every penny you donate counts!!!” she said in the letter.
Holliday said to some the topic of cancer is too heavy, real or intense to share with students but so are war, terrorism, racism, bullying and intolerance.
He said they are part of our world and culture. Holliday added kindness, love, compassion, and hope can also be part of our lives.
The school’s motto for the fundraiser is “Change for Change” meaning the hope and promise of a greater future for the families and each student at the assembly.
“If you care, change starts with you and me,” Holliday said. “Cancer patients need you. We can’t do it alone.”