Vail Valley students raise thousands of dollars to fight cancer, one penny at a time |

Vail Valley students raise thousands of dollars to fight cancer, one penny at a time

First grader Cohen Scriver, right, is one of the Brush Crek Elementary School students who helped the school raise thousands of dollars, one penny at a time, to help kids with leukemia or lymphoma. Kathryn Brock, left, and Dawn Theelke helped put the Pennies for Patients event together.
Randy Wyrick|


Cohen Scriver’s third birthday had been in his rearview mirror for one month when the family got the news: Cohen had cancer.

“It feels like you’re dreaming, a nightmare. Nothing seems real,” said Heather Scriver, Cohen’s mother. “Everything flies through you. You don’t hear what the doctors are saying. You’re just in shock.”

Cohen’s laughing eyes sparkle when asked how he’s feeling.

“Fine!” he says.

Even his hair, or the lack of it, is helping the fight against cancer. He had his head shaved as part of the Eagle fire department’s annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation benefit.

“He’s doing great, full of life and bouncing off the walls. He’s in karate, so he’s literally kicking butt,” Heather said.

EAGLE — You fight childhood leukemia one penny at a time. Pennies become dollars, and dollars become a cure.

That’s why Brush Creek Elementary School students traded classrooms for some slightly controlled chaos Friday morning, March 16, stretching their entrepreneurial muscles to buy and sell stuff and raise thousands of dollars for Pennies for Patients, a program of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

It’s personal

It’s personal for these kids.

Cohen Scriver is a first-grader at Brush Creek. He’s a cancer survivor. So is Jodie Metz. She teaches fifth grade at Brush Creek.

The whole thing started when Brush Creek students saw a presentation about Pennies for Patients. Teary-eyed students returned to class asking, “So many people have cancer. What are we going to do?”

Brainstorming ensued.

“We could have a lemonade stand. We could sell popcorn.”

They grew it from that, to this: 47 students — mostly kindergarteners and first-graders — helped put together Friday’s all-school event. They applied some arithmetic, calculating how many items they’d have to sell at a quarter or 50 cents each to reach their lofty $1,000 goal.

They had craft days to create items to sell. An email to families explained what the students were doing. All kinds of things rolled into school: supplies, things to sell and money with which to buy them. Notes attached said, “This is for leukemia.” Or, “This is for Pennies for Patients.”

“We had to catch up to what the kids were doing,” said Kathryn Brock, who team teaches a kindergarten and firs-grade class with Dawn Theelke.

Besides Pennies for Patients event, last week’s efforts included:

• Fifth-grader Allie Braun asked the Eagle Chamber of Commerce to help and came away with $550.

• Fifth-graders Anna Bolwell and Greta Knickerbocker worked the aisles of City Market with their boxes and collected donations from shoppers.

• Second-grader Landon Metz created a video to share on social media and then collected donations door-to-door. He has raised $236 and is still going.

• Oliver Schwartz is Yvonne Schwartz’ beloved son. Yvonne owns and runs Yoga Off Broadway in Eagle, so of course Oliver offered yoga lessons.

• There were the kids with a dance floor in the middle of the gym during Friday’s event. You could dance for a dollar. You could watch other people dance, which also cost a dollar. They raised a bunch of dollars. One of the dance director kids strolled over to a teacher and whispered, “I told you it would work.”

Going above their goal

Before Friday’s event, they had already raised $2,984. Friday’s “stretch goal” was $1,000. They blew by that before the coffee pot in the teachers’ lounge was empty Friday morning.

“Our kids are serious about helping others,” Metz said. “The stories you hear of what kids are doing on their own are amazing.”

They raised $6,672.22 last year. They’re likely to beat it this year.

“This is about kids, and kids helping kids. The amazing thing to me is that when those boxes come in, they are full of coins. It’s hundreds of dollars,” Metz said.

Most of the money stays local for kids fighting various forms of cancers. There’s a high school girl and a couple of girls in other elementary schools … the list is longer than it should be.

“These kids are passionate,” Metz said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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