ST. GEORGE — Adam Baker, principal of Crimson View Elementary, sat down Thursday morning to have his head shaved after the school surpassed their goal of raising $5,000 for Riley Slack, a sixth grader battling lymphoma.
Baker told St. George News that the “Penny Wars” fundraiser began Dec. 1, and since then, they were able to raise $6,273 for the Slack family.
Penny Wars is a friendly competition in which jars were placed in classrooms schoolwide to collect donations. Students could place money in any jar. Pennies and paper money would increase the total points in the jar, while silver coins could be put in others’ jars to decrease the total points. All money was donated to the Slack family.
Baker said the fundraiser was initiated after one of his staff members mentioned that Riley had been diagnosed with cancer. Riley was a student at Crimson through all her elementary years.
“Because of that, we knew there was a need, and our staff rallied and decided to try Penny Wars,” he said.
In addition to raising money, Baker committed to shaving his head if the school reached its goal of raising $5,000.
“The first week we raised about $2,200,” he said. “The second week we only raised about $1,600, so we were still like $1,600-1,700 short of $5,000. And we only did it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And so I was joking around with the students and saying, ‘There’s no way we’re going to make it.”
But on the day of the last count, they had far surpassed the goal, with a total of $6,273.
“More than anything, it’s awesome that people’s hearts are so full even during challenging times,” he said. They’re giving more than I certainly anticipated or expected. It’s awesome that people still care and want to make a difference for other people.”
Baker said the kids were overjoyed about him getting his head shaved, though there was plenty of friendly banter as well.
Ryan Talbot, a former teacher of Riley, said in a Facebook post on Nov. 30 that Riley had been doing chemotherapy for about a week. In addition to lymphoma, she said, Riley is also battling Ataxia Telangiectasia, a rare, neurodegenerative disease that is genetically inherited.
“Although she is facing these physical challenges, her personality and sense of humor shine through,” Talbot wrote in the post. “Riley is the sunshine in every room she enters. She has a smile that is more contagious than a yawn. When she laughs, it melts your heart and you can’t help but join in her happiness.”
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