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Classmates will step up

Walk for Wellness to benefit families of students with cancer

Walk for Wellness to benefit families of students with cancer

November 30, 1999|By JANET HEIM

WILLIAMSPORT ? This Saturday, the Williamsport High School track will be a destination for people of all athletic abilities, where the power of the heart will mean more than the participants' speed.

Instead of athletes competing against each other, those on the track will be part of a team effort to raise money for the families of two Williamsport High School students who are fighting cancer.

Senior Collin Jackson is the son of Larry and Glenda Jackson of Boonsboro. Sophomore Eugene Harris is the son of Ted and JoEllen Harris of Pinesburg.

The Walk for Wellness, a brainchild of the school's National Honor Society, will feature a Walk-a-Thon from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by a luau with music, refreshments and games until sundown. The rain date is Saturday, May 20.

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The school's Blue Band, in which Collin plays a tuba and sousaphone, had already held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the Jackson family. Sarah Tritsch said the school's National Honor Society, of which she is president, wanted to do a fundraiser as well.

When the group learned from Principal John Davidson that Eugene was also battling cancer, they decided the fundraiser should benefit both families.

"We wanted to do something different than the band. The Walk for Wellness is based on Relay for Life," Sarah said. "Hopefully it will make a significant difference."

Collin hasn't attended classes all school year as he makes weekly trips to University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. His doctors worked hard to get his blood counts to levels so he could attend the prom on Saturday, May 6, his first time in public with his classmates since his diagnosis in September 2005.

His mother, Glenda Jackson, said Collin's treatments are going well and that he has a "very good prognosis right now," despite some scary moments with spinal leaks and infections.

"I can't go on about how great these kids are," said Jackson, who added that it isn't just Williamsport students but also students from other schools such as South Hagerstown High School who have been a lifeline for Collin.

She said Collin has been working with tutor Patty Felix, who is a cancer survivor herself. He wants to study for the ministry at Messiah College, but because of his illness won't be able to start in the fall and has missed out on scholarship opportunities.

"We thank God every day we have friends," Glenda Jackson said. "This was a real eye-opener. We're forever changed."

Eugene was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a malignant cancer of the bone marrow, in January and has been tutored at home since. He receives regular treatments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and is scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant in July, said JoEllen Harris.

"I was very touched. It's nice to know the community cares and was willing to help both Eugene and Collin," said Harris of the upcoming Walk for Wellness fundraiser.

Participants are asked to collect donations on a sponsor sheets available at the high school and turn the proceeds in the day of the event. For more information about the Walk for Wellness, call Debra Tabler at Williamsport High at 301-766-8423.

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