Guthrie Public school has raised nearly $10,000 for Pancreatic Cancer Canada, completely smashing its original fundraising goal of $2,500.
The effort was started by Grade 8 students after one of their teachers, Jeff Munn, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Students, with the help of several teachers, organized the MUNN-Day-Bike-a-Thon. The event had Grade 7 and 8 students at the school riding bikes approximately 30 kilometres through local trails to help raise funds for pancreatic cancer research.
Kyla Leduc, a Grade 8 student at Guthrie Public School, said for herself and her classmates, it was an opportunity to step up and help.
“When we heard that Mr. Munn was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it kind of gave us a lot of encouragement to do something about it, and step up as Grade Eights to help,” she said.
According to Leduc, Munn is a key member in the school community, “Mr. Munn means a lot, a lot, to the school. He coached all of the sports teams and is just such a great teacher and is liked by all of the students here,” she said.
Cindy Williams, a teacher at Guthrie Public school, helped students organize the event. “It’s pretty exciting to see a plan that the kids came up with happen. It’s very emotional, very exciting, it’s a great day,” she said.
Williams says the students have been busy all year finding different ways to make a difference. “It’s about taking action against a very terrible disease, and the Grade Eights have done that by organizing many events, not just the Bike-a-Thon. They had a bake sale, sold freezies, they’ve sent cards, they have done lots of things to show how much they care about Mr. Munn.”
The principal of Guthrie Public School, Mel Hornik, says the atmosphere around the school was “incredibly pumped” leading up to the Bike-a-Thon event. “When we started out, we didn’t realize it was going to get this big, and so as more people have gotten involved and partnered with us, it’s grown and our excitement has risen as well,” she said.
Hornik says the outpouring of support from the community has been completely overwhelming. “It’s a great honour to have the opportunity to do this to support one of our much-loved teachers, and also recognize the need to support a charity like Pancreatic Cancer Canada. And so for me as principal, I am immensely proud, I am humbled by the level of support that we’ve had from our community, SCDSB schools, from the chair of our board. The outpouring of support has been immense, and I am deeply grateful for that.”
In order to give the school community incentive to raise the money, Simcoe County District School Board chair Peter Beacock told students he would shave his head if they raised over $2,500. It was a goal they surpassed easily.
Beacock says for him, the decision to shave his head was about supporting the community, but was also personal.
Beacock says he had been looking for a fundraiser to take part in after losing his wife to cancer last September. “I started growing my hair about the end of October and I first heard about the Guthrie teacher just around Christmastime, who was diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “It was a perfect fit for me, because I wanted to do something for cancer. So I chose this event to help support the students in order to raise the funds, and it’s gone way beyond what they expected to raise.”
Beacock says events like the Bike-a-Thon are what really bring communities together.
“All kinds of other schools got involved and gave donations and so it’s been a really positive experience. Character education is hugely important, so when you see caring, kindness, and compassion coming from students, we know we are doing the right things in schools,” he said.
The students taking part in the Bike-a-Thon were escorted through the local trails by police officers to ensure a safe ride.
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