BEALLSVILLE HIGH and elementary schools held a mini Rally For Life Assembly on Thursday and distributed three more checks to two cancer patients and a freshman student at Beallsville high school to help pay for her medical costs.
Delmas Moore reminded the students that through their extraordinary efforts and with tremendous support from the community and faculty that a new school record of $31,200 was raised in 2012. Adding recent donations to the account Moore announced that the new total for the six year campaign was $114,357.30.
Lou (Scooter) Tolzda, chairman of the event, told students that this year the board had decided to expand the program allowing the school to lend assistance beyond the normal scope of cancer patients residing in Beallsville or related to Beallsville students to be recipients of checks.
Check?recipients gathered for a group photo are Payton?Ward (front), Rich?Gibson, Larry Pittman accepting for wife Lisa, with Ron?Talbot gas card recipient. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"One is a person who has been very good to this school for many years who is a cancer patient and the other is a student here with some major medical expenses," Tolzda explained.
The first check for $1500 was given to Larry Pittman who was attending the rally representing his wife Lisa. Casey Tolzda presented the check and spoke of the exemplary character of the family and their faith.
The second recipient was the Times Leader's own Rich "Hoot" Gibson. Long time Blue Devil coaches Dave Caldwell and Scooter Tolzda spoke of the dedication and service to the school and sports programs given by Hoot and the Times Leader.
"The guys from TL are family," said Tolzda. "They always have the best interest of our athletes and students and we felt it was appropriate to help someone from that group."
The coach referenced Gibson's 31 years as a sports writer in which he has covered Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, baseball's World Series and had the opportunity to interview very many famous athletes and important people.
Caldwell illustrated Hoot's ability to make post-game interviews pleasant, even after a tough loss and spoke of his writing style which put a 'positive spin' on the games when he covered the young athletes.
Megan Palmer, represented the senior class of Beallsville High School which came down to the floor for the presentation.
"I understand from a personal perspective just what this means to members of our community," Palmer said brushing tears from her face and pausing occasionally to regain her composure. "Three members of my family have been recipients of the generosity of Beallsville Rally for Life and I want you to know that know you have made a real and significant impact on their lives and all of those we help with the money we raise."
"I want to express my thanks for your generosity," Gibson told the assembly of just over 400 students K-12 in the gymnasium. "I have always enjoyed coming to Beallsville and covering the Blue Devils."
Gibson explained that he was caught off guard when he was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) cancer in July. MCL is a cancer of the blood. It is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that he had recently wrapped up 8 weeks of chemotherapy and would be undergoing a bone marrow transplant at at Ohio State's Cancer Center later this year.
"I'm a proponent of anyone who is trying to make a difference in people's lives," Gibson related. "It is a wonderful program and gives everyone an opportunity to impact people's lives in a positive way."
The final check would be given to one of Beallsville's own students, Payton Ward. The freshman is confined to a wheel chair and will be leaving school for a while and traveling to Columbus where she will under go surgical procedures which will hopefully restore her ability to walk.
Madison Neiswonger represented the ninth grade class and spoke of her friends' special caring personality.
"Since kindergarten Payton has always there to take care of us," said an emotional Neiswonger. "She has shown great courage"
"I know you have to go but we will all be thinking of you, praying for you and supporting you. Keep trying."
Shirley Brown, director of the Gas Card Program told the students that a total of $61,000 had been given in gas cards to Monroe County cancer patients
She introduced Ron Talbot, a lung cancer patient who spoke to the students about his illness and treatments and how their efforts helped him pay for fuel to make monthly trips to Belpre for chemotherapy.
Talbot explained that there is no cure for his cancer and it is inoperable, it will eventually kill him and that in addition to the chemo he was given a shot each trip, "Each shot costs $5,660.40 but through your generosity and with your support I will keep on fighting."
Lori Wickham, serves as a Literature and English teacher at BHS. She teaches English 9, 10, 11, and 12; she also teaches 8th and HS Art. Wickham told students about a new fund raising program she has come up with for 2013. She explained that she had not cut her hair in 13 years and it was now five feet long. She will cut off one foot for each $500 raised for her hair challenge,
"If we raise $2,500 I will shave my head," said Wickham as she let down her hair for the students to see the length.
Colette McFadden, Guidance Counselor at Beallsville, announced that she is an avid reader and will be collecting books for a book sale. Students or community members can donate new or used books for sale by dropping them off at the high school office.
Micah Fuchs, Principal introduced Mr, Monticello who rallied the students with a rousing speech which set the bar for the 2013 Rally,
"We all do a little but and look at what we have accomplished," Monticello said. "We are a small school that raises an incredible amount of money for our size. We are an inspiration to other schools and groups."
"What are the possibilities if we give a lot bit?" Monticello asked. "This year every last one of us is going to give a lot bit. I'm up to the challenge how about you?"
Palmer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.