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Students support cancer research, one of their own

Students support cancer research, one of their own

March 23rd, 2019 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Sharman Banks and Tammy Schmitz, of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, hold an oversized check Friday from the Pennies for Patients fundraiser, which honors Tanay Goel, who has been diagnosed and is currently receiving treatment for leukemia. In the background are The Hero Squad students who raised the most money. Each year, TJMS raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Photo by Mark Wilson /News Tribune.

Thomas Jefferson Middle School announced Friday its students and other local donors have collected $1,100.43 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — which has extra meaning this year because a Thomas Jefferson student is battling leukemia.

Thomas Jefferson special-education teacher Tammy Schmitz said Friday the school has been raising money for the cause through a program called "Pennies for Patients" for at least as long as she's been there — 18 years — taking in $600-$1,000 each year.

Seventh-grader Tanay Goel was not in Thomas Jefferson's gym Friday afternoon for the announcement because Schmitz said he was in St. Louis getting treatment.

However, Goel's teacher Sharman Banks — who is a seventh-grade English teacher and an instructor for homebound students — said Goel had recorded a short video to express his thanks, and it would be played in students' homerooms Friday afternoon.

"It could be somebody right here at TJ, and this time, it really is," Banks told students of who donations through Pennies for Patients can support.

The homeroom group of students who raised the most money for Pennies for Patients gets a pizza party, Schmitz said, and this year, that was Banks' students, who raised $349.87.

Banks credited the students standing behind her in the gym as the ones who did the work — "by standing in the rain, ice and snow" to collect change from people in the car rider line at school.

Goel's parents also gave $100, as did Mid-America Bank.

Thomas Jefferson's students heard the Pennies for Patients announcement in the school gym before the start of the student-faculty basketball game.

Schmitz said the student-faculty basketball game has not happened in years — distant enough in the past for other people to refer to it as the first student-faculty basketball game.

More information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is available at