Caitlyn Warren’s smiles and high-fives Tuesday gave no indication that the 8-year-old is in remission for an aggressive form of cancer.
Johnston-McQueen Elementary School students kicked off the Longview ISD campus’ Pennies for Patients fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Each student will receive a box to put money in for three weeks with a goal of raising $3,000 as a campus. Families also can donate online.
The funds help children like Caitlyn, who was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma — an uncommon form of a fast-growing cancer — when she was 5.
Caitlyn said her classmates raising money for children with cancer makes her happy.
“Because I want to help all the kids I can,” she said.
When students gathered Tuesday to learn about the fundraiser, Caitlyn gave a short speech about her journey with her illness and how giving money can help.
“In three days, people will spend more money at Starbucks for coffee than the federal government gives to children’s cancer research in one year,” she said. “Isn’t that crazy?”
Campus counselor Bertile Johnson said she asked Caitlyn to speak so the students could see for themselves how one of their peers was impacted by cancer.
Christinia Warren, Caitlyn’s mother, said the support of the school shows a family environment.
“I think it really shows the community aspect of (the campus),” she said. “When she was diagnosed, she was only three weeks into kindergarten, and her own kindergarten teacher offered to teach her and came to our house and taught her twice a week for two hours. They had a space for her at her table where they put a bear wearing her outfit.”
Christinia Warren said her daughter’s classmates never bullied her, even when she lost her hair during chemotherapy treatments.
“She would wear a wig, and she felt so comfortable she just took it off because everybody just accepted her and who she was,” she said.