Danny O'Rourke and Julian Nash talk to students at Sunnyvale Middle School.
San Jose Earthquakes

Sunnyvale Middle School raises over $9,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

With over 712,000 Americans battling blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, medical costs and cancer research advancements can get extremely expensive. The students at Sunnyvale Middle School know that every single penny counts.

Sunnyvale Middle School has been the top fundraising school for three years in a row with the Pennies for Patients program in the Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay Area region of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year the school combined to donate a total of $9,015.87 over the months of February and March to LLS. The students at Sunnyvale Middle School have proven their consistent concern over the years for the 14,500 local cancer patients as they have raised close to $45,000 since 1999.

On Thursday, June 9, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Danny O'Rourke and forward Julian Nash visited Sunnyvale Middle School to reward the students for their efforts in the LLS' Pennies for Patients program. The two professional athletes ran a skills clinic for 35 hand-picked kids from the winning school to teach them soccer drills and tricks.

The annual Pennies for Patients fundraising drive is run across the country, where over 10 million elementary, middle, and high school students collect spare change-pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters-over a three week period to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's efforts in helping to find a cure for cancer.

Each school raises funds in honor of a local patient who suffers from a cancerous blood disease. Sunnyvale Middle School supported eight-year old Ethan Cutler from San Jose as their honored patient.

Ethan, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphotcytic Leukemia before his third birthday, had to endure seven hospital stays, three weeks in intensive care, three surgeries, ten spinal taps, four bone marrow aspirations, and more than 200 shots over the next three years. But after all of that, Ethan was finally cured. He is now a second grader and loves going to school, dancing, and playing soccer and baseball. Ethan hopes that one day there will be a cure for leukemia so other children don't have to go through what he did, and he encouraged the students at Sunnyvale Middle School to continue to raise money through Pennies for Patients to find that cure.

The top local fundraising classrooms and schools involved in the fundraising program received such prizes as classroom pizza parties, trips to Raging Waters theme park in San Jose, parties at the Jungle Restaurant in San Jose, and appearances by San Jose Earthquakes players like O'Rourke and Nash.

Sunnyvale Middle School was not the only supporter in Pennies for Patients. Overall, 130 local schools in the Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay areas raised a total of $131,184.07, including Jordan Middle School of Palo Alto ($6,532.84), Castro Middle School of San Jose ($6,256.64), Foster City Elementary School of Foster City ($5,983.24), Harker School of San Jose ($5,173.78), Addison Elementary School of Palo Alto ($4,040,16), Blue Hills Elementary School of Saratoga ($3,260.28), Ascencion Solorsano Middle School of Gilroy ($3,227.18), Toro Park Elementary School of Salinas ($3,089.54), and Rancho San Justo Middle School of Hollister ($3,021.91).

As an organization, the San Jose Earthquakes have been actively involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society over the years. The Quakes have supported and taken part in LLS' Light the Night Walk for the past four years as well as Pennies for Patients for three years. Former Earthquakes defender Todd Dunivant, who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, has played a huge role in supporting the organization since 2001 when his brother, Luke, was diagnosed with leukemia. In June 2004, Todd ran in LLS' Man of the Year campaign in honor of Luke, raising over $20,000 with the help of the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. The Society's mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, the Society has provided more than $358 million for research specifically targeting blood cancers. For more information on LLS in the Bay Area visit their website at http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_chap.

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