Monterrey Elementary third-grader Myca Patterson became the center of attention during a pep rally that was organized by the school student council, background, to recognize breast cancer awareness, Tuesday afternoon. (Mark Wilson Photo)
It was a sea of pink. Kids, teachers, pink lemonade and pink-frosted cookies. In the middle of October, it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but “Pink Day” at Monterrey Elementary on Tuesday wasn’t just another breast cancer awareness event. This fundraiser was conceived and carried out by the school’s fifth-grade student council, and all in honor of one student battling cancer.
Third-grader Myca Patterson couldn’t stop smiling and dancing as he waited for his moment in front of all the students. It was in his honor that the kids raised money and all the money they collected went to the Chaves County Cancer Center; it will all stay local.
The original idea for “Pink Day” was credited to fifth-grader and student council member Jason Madrid. In his black shirt with a painted-on pink breast cancer ribbon, he was all smiles, very proud of his idea. And to think it all started because he wore a pink breast cancer bracelet. From there he thought, “Let’s have a whole pink day.”
But no plan can come to fruition without a little help. So Oscar Estrada, Uriah Gonzales, Kayla Quiroz, Valaree Manzanares, Marisela Yepis, Jared Cordero and Zack Lipe — the entire student council — teamed up to raise money for cancer.
All the Monterrey students were asked to each give a quarter toward the cause and to wear pink on Oct. 22.
Principal Patricia Garnett said they sell pickles and popcorn on Fridays for 50 cents, so the council was really using that to help motivate other kids to give money.
“’Some of you bought eight pickles,’” Garnett said, quoting the council member. “’You can cough up a couple bucks for cancer.’ When it comes from the (other) kids, they listen.”
The money was given to guest speaker Mag Martinez, director of the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center’s Cancer Treatment Center, who gave the kids some facts and advice about cancer.
“I hate cancer,” he started. “Any one here hate cancer?” Every hand shot up, accompanied by an enthusiastic “YA!”
In short, according to Martinez, cancer is “normal cells that went crazy.” He then gave the kids a simple list of ways to prevent cancer: eat good food, exercise, drink lots of water, don’t smoke; and his secret to cancer prevention: do your homework and mind your parents.
After his short advice, Martinez read the final amount collected: $431, a number that quickly increased to $438 as more students ran up with last minute dollars. For each extra dollar, loud cheering and applause echoed around the auditorium.
The enthusiasm among the kids was astonishing. But every person in that room — from the youngest to the oldest — had a personal story about cancer. An aunt, a friend, a grandma: every one knew someone who has or have had breast cancer.
“Some of our teachers have passed away from breast cancer, and some are still battling it,” explained council member Estrada. The topic really hit home for a lot of people.
Because of the widespread nature of cancer, ENMMC will have an open house at their Cancer Treatment Center Thursday from 5-7 p.m. as a continuation of the October breast awareness theme. There will also be a Breast Cancer Awareness Expo at the Civic Center Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.