Lenihan rallies around fifth grader battling cancer, holds penny drive

When students at Lenihan Intermediate heard their friend Tyler Harris was once again battling cancer, they wanted to help.  Some students suggested a penny war, an idea quickly embraced by all of Lenihan, and after just one week the lofty goal of $2,000 was shattered, with students raising more than $4,000 for Tyler and his family.

Tyler was first diagnosed with brain cancer while a third grader at Hoglan Elementary. When the now fifth grader had it return this year his former Hoglan classmates wanted to help. Route 66 teacher Kris Alman helped spearhead the drive. The school was decorated with signs and shirts were made with the Harris family’s mantra: Keep Fighting, Tyler!

Students spent 10 minutes each morning in their neighborhoods counting the donations. Julie Finch and Stacey Barta, teachers in Tyler’s neighborhood (Route 66), said students were extremely excited about supporting the penny war. They eagerly pitched in to raise money and asked for regular updates from Tyler’s Caring Bridge website.

Because the students surpassed their goal, they will get to witness two special events this Friday during the end-of-the-year pool party at the Community Y. Guidance counselor Mark Chardoulias – a die-hard Iowa Hawkeyes fan – will attend decked out in Cyclone gear. Principal Ralph Bryant will have his head shaved.