O'Fallon Progress

Marie Schaefer starts Pennies 4 Patients drive

Kids gather around Marie Schaefer Elementary school nurse Lorilee Sebesto during Fri., Feb. 26 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Pennies For Patients” kick-off assembly.
Kids gather around Marie Schaefer Elementary school nurse Lorilee Sebesto during Fri., Feb. 26 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Pennies For Patients” kick-off assembly. mhodapp@bnd.com

Spare change is on everyone’s mind at Marie Schaefer Elementary (MSE) in O’Fallon.

It can be a hassle, as it’s often found weighing down mom’s purse, in dad’s car console, in the junk draw or jingling in your neighbor’s pocket, or maybe it’s stuck in the cushions in your home or office.

Students and teachers at MSE are asking people hand it over — for the greater good that is.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) “Pennies For Patients” fundraiser drive that began last week with a kick-off assembly Friday. It will run until March 23, with a 2:15 p.m. wrap-up assembly in the gym.

This is MSE’s second year participating, but “Pennies For Patients” was started in the early 1990s.

The drive is to help raise awareness and funds for those afflicted by leukemia or lymphoma cancers, like MSE second grader Owen Clive, 8, who has benefited from the organization.

“We have an Honored Hero at our school, second grader Owen Clive, 8,” Lorilee Sebesta, school nurse and drive coordinator, said. “Owen received many benefits from the LLS during his leukemia treatments.”

Melissa Shannon, LLS campaign representative, said the Honored Hero’s can be anyone who have battled leukemia or lymphoma.

“What we do is whenever we are signing up the schools for the program, we ask the school if there are any students, teachers or family members who’ve gone through it, and then we get their permission.”

Then specific posters with his or her picture(s) and story are posted around the school.

“That way the students can relate more to a single person that they know,” Shannon said.

Last year, Sebesta said MSE hit a record with LLS.

“We won Rookie of the Year for the LLS Gateway chapter last year, meaning we raised more than any first time participating school in Southern Illinois,” Sebesta said with excitement in her voice.

MSE student body far surpassed it’s goal of $1,000 by raising just over $2,500, Shannon said.

According to Sebesta, the school is very driven with a new goal of $5,000, and a minimum of $2,016.

“This year we have brought online giving in,” Shannon said, which MSE is promoting on the school website too.

“We want to encourage parents to ask their employer about matching donations because we (need) businesses to help,” Sebesta said. “Plus it’s a tax deductible donation as well, so come tax season business owners may get a break.”

Shannon said donors can choose whether to claim the tax deduction as coming from an individual, business or organization — “the choice is up to the donor(s).”

Sebesta touted the plethora of incentives for students, classrooms and donors.

There are about 40 other metro-east schools participating in the LLS drive.

The drive’s wrap up assembly will start at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23 and will likely last till 2:45 p.m. in the Marie Schaefer Elementary gym located at 505 S. Cherry St. in O'Fallon.

For more information on LLS, visit the organization website.

LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services, and exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

Online incentives for students

▪ Raise $10, students get to wear student series tatoo to show support of those affected by childhood cancers.

▪ Raise $25, students get a student series pencil.

▪ Raise $50, students get a “piece of awesome LLS swag” T-shirt to wear.

▪ Raise $100, students get a Mobimate teddy bear to hold a tablet.

▪ Raise $250, students get a USB thumb drive to use for assignment and notes digital storage.

▪ Raise $500, students get a letter of recommendation for his or her academic portfolio.

Online incentives for teachers

▪ Teacher’s classroom raises $100 online, the teacher earns a $5 Starbucks gift card.

▪ When the school reaches $1,500 online, the staff earns a Domino’s lunch.

Classroom incentives

▪ Traveling trophy will be awarded to the winning classroom each week.

▪ Overall winning classroom watches their teacher get a “pie in the face” at the wrap-up assembly March 23.

▪ Overall winning classroom wins their choice of a lunch from either Olive Garden or Domino’s.

School-wide activities


Students encouraged to bring in $1 for one foot of duck tape through March 22

At the Wrap Up Assembly on March 23, students get to tape Principal Tracy Duggins to the gym wall


On March 3, 8, 16, 21, student ambassadors will help you clean that extra change out of your console while you are in line to pick up your student from school.


LLS funds research to advance more breakthrough therapies for blood cancer patients. Since its inception, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in blood cancer research. In fiscal year 2014 alone, LLS invested more than $79.8 million in blood cancer research. Thanks to LLS funded research and the fund-raising effort of programs like Pennies for Patients, survival rates for some blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled. Critical treatment innovations have originated through blood cancer research – radiation, chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and new targeted therapies. From 2000 to 2014, almost 40 percent of new anti-cancer drugs were FDA-approved for blood cancer patients — more first-ever approvals than for any other group of cancers — and many of these were advanced with funding from LLS. Some therapies are even helping patients with other cancers and other serious, nonmalignant diseases.

Patient access, policy and advocacy

LLS is the leading source of free blood cancer information, education and support. LLS’s Patient Services include: information specialists, The Trish Greene Back to School Program for Children with Cancer, Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program, family support groups, free education materials, free telephone and web education programs. Today, LLS is the voice for all blood cancer patients, advocating for policies that accelerate the approval of new treatments and ensure access to quality, affordable and coordinated care. LLS advocacy has been a strong voice in Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States, working to enact state and federal laws and regulations that ensure patients can access the care and treatments they need at an affordable price. Our grassroots advocacy network now includes more than 100,000 volunteers.

Blood cancer facts

Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are cancers that can affect the bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. These diseases are related in the sense that they probably all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell. The mutated stem cell multiplies continuously and interferes with the production and functioning of healthy blood cells. Leukemia is the most common cancer in children, adolescents and young adults younger than 20 years and it causes more deaths than any other cancer among this age group. In 2014, approximately 4,103 children and adolescents under 20 were diagnosed with a leukemia throughout the U.S.

Who: Program for cancer survivors who’ve been determined to be in remission, and at any stage of recovery, to help he or she grow stronger. Individuals do not have to be YMCA members to participate, but there is an application process.

What: New 12-week personal training program called LiveStrong free to participants and includes a free three-month membership. It is geared towards the needs and limitations of cancer patients.

When: Applying to register now for free to participants and up coming groups will be forming in March.

Where: Groups to meet twice weekly for one hour sessions at the O’Fallon YMCA located at 284 N. Seven Hills Road.

Goal: To increase strength, cardiovascular fitness, balance, and flexibility.

Please contact Stefanie McLaughlin at 628-7701, for more details and to sign up.