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This school year millions of youngsters around the country are going to pitch in and help other children in the battle against childhood catastrophic diseases.
And they are going to do it one math problem at a time.
Math-A-Thon®, one of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s most successful fund-raising programs, is kicking off once again with a new school year, and this year, they have redesigned Math-A-Thon FunbookTM booklets that include Internet bonus problems, updated student incentives and new school prizes.
Fusing education, competition and philanthropy, Math-A-Thon has raised millions of dollars for St. Jude since it began more than 25 years ago. And since that time, cure rates for childhood cancers have climbed. When the program began in the late 1970s, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer had a cure rate of 50 percent. Today, 80 percent of children with ALL will survive, and more than 23,000 schools and millions of students stand ready to continue their support.
“We feel that our Math-A-Thon program has a three-fold objective,” said Marilyn Elledge, vice president of Donor and Volunteer Programs at ALSAC, the hospital’s fund-raising arm. “It helps raise funds to support the work of St. Jude; it helps introduce the idea of philanthropy at an early age; and it is a way for us to help in educating the next generation of American citizens.”
The Math-A-Thon program encourages kids from kindergarten to ninth grade to use their math skills to raise funds for St. Jude. Students simply ask for pledges from family members and friends, either in an amount-per-problem or a one-time donation. The students then go to work using the Math-A-Thon workbook or interactive CD—adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing—honing their math skills and helping fight childhood cancer in the process.
“I personally feel very strongly in some form of community service,” said Sandra Fortunoff, recently retired principal of Clinton Avenue Elementary School in Port Jefferson, N.Y. “And the St. Jude Math-A-Thon was a great combination. It was raising money for a very worthy cause, yet at the same time the children were doing math problems. And any time you do additional math, that is always a benefit. I thought it was the best combination of good plus good.”
Fortunoff was recently honored as the Math-A-Thon Volunteer Coordinator of the Year by St. Jude. The Math-A-Thon program became part of the school’s culture during her tenure as principal. “I think when the principal gets involved, it gives that much more emphasis to a project. The children look at it a little differently,” Fortunoff said. “We tried different times of the year but we’ve been most successful in winter, around the middle of January. It was something the kids looked forward to after returning from Christmas vacation.”
But not only do the students help St. Jude and learn something, they also earn something as well. They can win some cool prizes for themselves such as a free pass to any Six Flags Theme Park®. They can also help their school earn awards such as TVs, VCRs, printers, scanners and more.
Typically, Math-A-Thon is a child’s very first encounter with St. Jude. It sure was for supermodel Amber Valletta. Valletta participated in Math-A-Thon programs while going to school and continues to support St. Jude.
For more information about Math-A-Thon or to find out how to get your school involved, visit our newly updated www.mathathon.org.
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