Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

May 5, 2014

Aiding classmates

Beta Club’s project now involves Olive Hill community

ASHLAND — A year ago, the seventh-grade Beta Club at West Carter Middle School decided to help a fellow student battling bone cancer by sponsoring a 5K run and walk to raise funds to help that student’s family with expenses related to his illness. That initial run went so well Beta Club members decided to make an run/walk an annual event, with the money being raised going to help other students.

Last year’s first 5K run and walk raised $2,800 to help the family of fellow student Jordan Holbrook with incidental expenses incurred as a result of out-of-town treatments for his battle against bone cancer. That’s an impressive amount of money for a club in a small school in a small town to raise for a first-time fundraiser. No wonder students in the club representing the best and brightest of the school’s seventh-graders were so willing and eager to make the fundraiser an annual event.

The second annual 5K run and walk — which students have dubbed the West Carter Crusade — will begin at the school at 10 a.m. on May 17.

The funds generated by this year’s  5K run/walk — or, if you prefer, crusade —will benefit Caleb Barker — a West Carter seventh- grader who is fighting Batten disease, a nervous system disorder that causes progressive sight loss and  other problems.

According to Caleb’s mother, Melissa Barker, her son’s sight has been deteriorating since the first grade and he also must deal with balance issues, muscular weakness and other difficulties. Despite his medical problems, Caleb is a good student who, like many of his peers, loves movies, his iPad and “anything and everything Disney.”

Although the walk will not be until May 17, Caleb Barker’s mother already is seeing benefits from it in her son. He had been showing signs of introversion until he heard about the run, said Melissa Barker.

“Now he feels people are rallying around him, and it makes a difference,” she said

Not only is the fundraiser benefiting Caleb and .his family, it is teaching the best students in West Carter Middle School’s seventh grade the importance of looking beyond themselves and their own desires to help fulfill the needs of others. The positive lessons they learn from this run will benefit the students and the community for years to come. While school fundraisers are common, having one to benefit one fellow student is rare.

This has quickly become much more than a fundraiser by a club in one school to raise  money for   families with sick children. It has gained broad support throughout the Olive Hill community. How else can you explain raising so much money from last year’s initial event? We would not be the least bit surprised if the second 5K run or walk on May 17 raises even more money. After all, Olive Hill residents know a good thing when they see it.

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