Students release balloons to raise breast cancer awareness
by Jennifer Cohron
Oct 18, 2012 | 3100 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Principal Kristy Wheeler and lunchroom manager Sherrie Hawkins watch hundreds of pink balloons being carried away by a strong wind Wednesday morning. T.S. Boyd Elementary/Jr. High School sold the balloons to raise money for breast cancer research. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Principal Kristy Wheeler and lunchroom manager Sherrie Hawkins watch hundreds of pink balloons being carried away by a strong wind Wednesday morning. T.S. Boyd Elementary/Jr. High School sold the balloons to raise money for breast cancer research. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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DORA — The sky above T.S. Boyd Elementary/Junior High School turned pink Wednesday morning after 600 balloons were released by faculty, students and several breast cancer survivors.

The balloons were sold for $1 each to raise money for breast cancer research. Proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s leading breast cancer organization.

Principal Kristy Wheeler said members of the school’s Beta Club spearheaded the fundraiser and exceeded expectations.

“Our goal was 600. We sold over 1,000 balloons,” Wheeler said.

In addition to the balloon release, the school established a wall of honor near the gymnasium for breast cancer awareness month.

The names of hundreds of breast cancer survivors as well as those who died from the disease are posted on balloons made out of pink construction paper.

One of the names seen most frequently is Marilyn Gober, a kindergarten teacher at the school who has battled breast cancer for the past three years.

Last year, T.S. Boyd sold T-shirts to show their support for local breast cancer survivors.

“This year, we just wanted to do something a little bit extra. Everybody has been touched by this disease in some way,” Wheeler said.

Deb McLemore, a five-year survivor and employee at West Jasper Elementary School, shared her story during an assembly program held prior to the balloon release.

Her father, for whom she was a caregiver, died of lung cancer in 2004.

“I think God was preparing me for what I was going to go through a couple of years later,” she said.

McLemore was diagnosed with breast cancer after undergoing surgery to have a cyst removed in January 2007.

The summer before, an abnormality had shown up on her mammogram. Although follow-up tests came back clear, her doctor had insisted that she see a surgeon.

McLemore said she was in shock when she learned that the cyst was cancerous.

Against her doctor’s advice, she elected to have a double mastectomy to reduce the chances of the cancer reoccurring.

In January, McLemore celebrated five years of being cancer-free.

She thanked the students for the work they have done to help fund breast cancer research, which has helped save lives like hers.

McLemore ended her story by reminding the audience that being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence.

“Cancer is a bad thing but just know that there is hope out there,” McLemore said.