Inside a hallway of Plain View Elementary School, Sharlie Lee and her son Christian gathered with a group of children wearing purple and green shirts with “Every Hand, Every Heart” on the front.
The shirt also contains a pair of wings wrapped around a purple ribbon for epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder. It represents her son, Gage, who died at the age of 4 after a long battle with seizures.
To honor his memory, the family created the Gage Tart Lee Foundation to help people with scholarships and needs.
“That’s what gets us through,” Sharlie said about her son passing away in September 2013. “That’s what life is about, helping someone else out.”
Thanks to the generosity of students at PVES, the foundation’s funds became a little bigger Wednesday.
The school recently promoted awareness for Epilepsy and Muscular Dystrophy Syndrome (MDS) in memory of Gage and fifth-grade student Ethan Myers and collected close to $10,000 in the process.
“It touched our hearts and everybody in our family,” Sharlie said. “It really touched us.”
Donations were split between the foundations selected by the parents.
Christian was thankful that his friends supported the foundation.
“I would like to thank everybody in the school for trying to raise money for my brother,” Christian said.
Since birth, Ethan has lived on life support and fought against a rare form of MDS, Nemaline Rod Myopathy, which causes muscle weakness. The disease has him confined to a wheelchair.
Ethan underwent intense surgery for muscle atrophy in his back and for his legs. He will have to return every six months to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for more treatments.
Like Sharlie, his parents, Christy and Ron Myers, appreciated the education and support from the school.
The green lettering on the shirt represents the awareness of muscular dystrophy.
“It’s exciting to see the kids and how much they got into it,” Christy said. “We’re thankful and blessed to have this school and community.”
“I’m pretty amazed that elementary kids can raise this money through donations,” Ron said.
Christy said her son enjoys life.
That enjoyment includes coming to school and interacting with the children. Christy said he’s treated the same as the others.
“As a mom of a special needs kid, that means a lot,” Christy said. “He doesn’t feel any different than any other kid here.”
The Myers will use their portion to support the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
It took a little more than a week for the school to collect more than $9,300. Close to 400 students contributed.
“We’re just a loving and caring community,” said Plain View physical education teacher Beth Best. “We just want our families to know that we’re for them in whatever capacity they need us as a school.”
Cayla Lee, a second-grader at PVES, was the top fundraiser and collected more than $270.
“I went to people’s houses and our neighbor houses to get money,” Cayla said.
Fifth-grader Heather Norland enjoyed making a difference for her classmate.
“He’s one of our student’s in our class and we really love him,” Heather said.
John Best, a student at Plain View, enjoyed helping as well.
“It feels good to help people out because I feel like I’m doing something good,” John said.
Best said the school participated in activities such as Jump Rope for Heart, but focused on local community members lately. Last year, a teacher in the community lost a child to brain cancer and another teacher endured melanoma cancer, which required a lot of surgeries.
“We wanted to help our people and let them know how much we love them,” Best said.