As Gina Greenplate, the teaching professions teacher at the Columbia Area Career Center, was running the St. Jude’s marathon for the fourth time last year, she looked ahead and noticed an 11-year-old girl in a wheelchair high fiving all of the runners. Greenplate stopped to talk to the smiling Lizzy Wampler, a patient at St. Judes.
“I stopped and introduced myself and showed her the shirt I was wearing that she had designed as a fundraiser,” Greenplate said. “Her smile was so big and contagious.”
Through social media, Greenplate discovered Wampler’s story, contacted her mother and asked if she could run the marathon for Wampler. Lizzy Wampler was being treated at St. Jude’s Hospital for Osteosarcoma, a cancer affecting children and young adults that starts in the bones, according to American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, the day after the race, Wampler’s parents said the doctors determined she could not respond to treatment, and there were no other options that could save her.
After hearing the news, Greenplate told her students about Wampler’s fight against cancer. Greenplate’s students discussed the impact of Wampler’s cancer on family members. This inspired the class to help the Wampler’s family over the holiday season. Last year, students raised $1500, from RBHS, Columbia Area Career Center, Hickman High School and Battle High School.
“We purchased gift cards for all family members, including date night gift cards for mom and dad and were able to give the family over $800 to help with medical expenses not covered by St Jude,” Greenplate said.
To continue contributing to help other kids like Wampler, Friday, Sept. 21, Educators Rising, a RBHS club of future teachers, held a dollar drive to raise money for pediatric cancer awareness.
“I think this is a great thing that people our age care enough to try and make a difference,” senior Zainab Ibitoye said. “Money is always needed, it can greatly help with research and raising awareness.”
Educators Rising wanted to continue raising funds and awareness to help other children with cancer while also honoring Wampler.
“This year more of an effort is being put to raise money for cancer awareness in her name, including a 5K called Lizzy’s Walk of Faith that happened just a week ago,” Educators Rising President junior Madi Pulniak said.
Students were able to amass over $750 for the cause from the dollar drive. Jennifer Wampler, Lizzy’s mother received the money Friday, Sept. 28 for the foundation.
Hearing about [Lizzy] dying from cancer is just heartbreaking,” Ibitoye said. “Before I hadn’t really put much thought about the severity of pediatric cancer and now I definitely want to put in action and [help] raise awareness so this isn’t just another victim of the evils of cancer.”
Have you heard Wampler’s story? Tell us in the comments below.