"A teacher effects eternity, she can never tell where her influence stops." This certainly rings true of Lisa Giampalmi and Maureen Malloy, who have made a huge impact on our breast cancer movement by leading the West Chester Area School District to empower the cures.
The West Chester Area School District's Kids for a Cure program - a unique breast cancer awareness and fundraising project embracing students, faculty and parents in the District - started May 4, and before the end of the school year had raised $39,242 for the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate to empower 'Our Community and Our Cures!'
Having just completed its seventeenth year, twelve schools participated in the West Chester 2012 Kids for a Cure program (the highest participation to date!) including ten elementary schools, one middle school and, for the first time, one high school. This year's $39,242, brings the program's seventeen-year total fundraising to more than $789,000 for cancer awareness, education and research. For 2012, the organizers decided to partner for the first time with the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate in support of our Dietz & Watson Pretty In Pig program, and named us the sole beneficiary of the fundraising.
"After sixteen years, we felt it was time - and our students and families were ready - to take this unique program to a new level in terms of awareness and embracing the younger generations in understanding that they can make a difference in their own way," said Maureen Malloy, former teacher from the District and coordinator of the program. "The Komen Philadelphia Affiliate welcomed us with opened arms, and we are thrilled with the commitment they've shown to helping us take this program where we want it to go. I am confident that, together, Komen and the West Chester Area School District will embrace more and more youngsters in the hope of an end to breast cancer in their lifetime."
The Kids for a Cure program was started by Lisa Giampalmi, her husband Kevin Liebsch, and Maureen Malloy in 1995, the year after Lisa lost her mother to breast cancer. That first year, it consisted of Giampalmi's first-grade students of about 100 students at Starkweather Elementary each one taking home a letter and envelope to their parents asking them to sponsor their children in a half-hour walk around the playground.
This year, Starkweather alone raised over $6,000 and had 650 participants in the relay. Giampalmi, Malloy and coordinator Tony Ambrosino, a fourth-grade teacher at Starkweather, set out to raise at least $35,000 for the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate... and a great deal of awareness among students, parents and faculty.
Participation by the schools was voluntary, and exactly what each Kids for a Cure Relay entailed varied from school to school. However, all twelve participating schools did include a fifteen-minute Kids for a Cure walk per class on school grounds, and some form of monetary sponsorship for walkers to raise funds.
Many schools also included other incentives, such as fundraising prizes, additional fundraising activities, and special elements of "pink-colored" celebration to their activities. The Komen Philadelphia Affiliate and Pretty In Pig sponsor, Dietz & Watson, also furnished giveaways and prizes, and to welcome Bayard Rustin High School into the program, a Dietz & Watson Grillebration was thrown for the top fundraising homerooms for each of the four grades.
However, as Giampalmi points out, the children don't need prizes to motivate them. "The younger ones may not be sure how it correlates to their lives right now, but all of these children have a lot of love to offer to their families, their friends and the people in their community. It's truly amazing what kids can do when they come together."
"We are so very fortunate to have dedicated leaders such as Lisa, Maureen, and the faculty and administration of the West Chester Area School District realize the importance of this, as well as take action," said Elaine I. Grobman, Chief Executive Officer of the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate. "The Affiliate looks forward to continuing this partnership for many years with the hope that today's children will grow up to be adults living free from the threat of breast cancer."
For a wonder program that raised over $39,000 for our mission, embraced thousands in awareness and hope of the cures, and helped set in motion the wheels of the next generation to take up the fight, we proudly honor the West Chester Area School District with our Pink Ribbon of the Month. Like us, we hope their story and hard work inspires YOUR breast cancer activism for years to come.
Pictured: Some of the staff and students at Rustin High School pose with Dietz & Watson staff at an end-of-the year Grillebration, which celebrate the school's first year participating in the West Chester Area School Districts Kids for a Cure program