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Longview ISD school becomes 'flagship' for world charity

By Christina Lane
Feb. 3, 2012 at 11 p.m.


J.L. Everhart Elementary School and its students Friday became the first school in the world to join with an international organization dedicated to easing human suffering for amputees in developing countries.

"We want you to help them," said Trevor Bergman, director of administrative operations of LIMBS International. "If they can walk, if they don't have to use crutches, then they can have a new lease on life."

Students at the Longview ISD campus will be raising money for LIMBS International, a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost, durable prosthetics.

"We are about to begin something huge here at J.L. Everhart," Principal Kim Marshall told students. "We are going to be raising money for a program that is going to help people around the world be able to walk."

The work of LIMBS International was initiated in 2004 by Roger Gonzalez, a biomedical engineering professor at LeTourneau University. The program originally was known as LEGS (LeTourneau Engineering Global Solutions) and began as a senior biomedical engineering design project, which challenged students to design and build a low-cost knee joint, Bergman said.

The knee joint was intended to be part of an above-the-knee prosthesis that was durable, highly functional and could be locally fabricated in developing countries, Bergman said. The final design, now known as the "LIMBS Knee," is a functional prosthetic knee joint that can be manufactured for less than $20, he said.

In early 2011, LIMBS became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Bergman told students the organization serves people around the world who have lost a limb for reasons that may range from being bitten by a snake to being in a auto wreck. But J.L. Everhart can help the mission, he added.

Students will raise money by donating a dollar toward having free dress days, making bookmarks to be sold at Books-A-Million and obtaining sponsorships, Marshall said.

For the sponsorships, students will ask for pledges for a variety of academic purposes, she said. If they achieve the goal, then the sponsor will pay the amount pledged, she said.

For example, a student might seek a sponsorship to pay him or her for making a perfect score on a spelling test, earning a place on the honor roll, increasing his or her reading level, passing a specific state assessment test or a variety of other purposes. Marshall said no amount is too small to donate to students.

Bergman said LIMBS plans to visit other Longview ISD schools to get them to join the program, but J.L. Everhart was the first. He said he would come back to the campus in May to pay another visit to students.

"We want you guys to set achievement goals. We want you to set academic goals," he said. "Not only are you helping yourself, but you are helping people all over the world. You are our flagship school."

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