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Little Hero with a Big Heart

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/little-hero-big-heart-patricia-spencer?trk=prof-post

For Anne and Grayson Lenik, raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a family affair. Anne and Grayson help coordinate the annual event while their 13 year old daughter Hannah helps with logistics and their 11 year old son Max participates as a shavee. In fact, Max has participated as a shavee, meaning he gets donations to shave his head, for the past 8 years.


Anne explains that Max wanting to help just happened, “The first year we held the event, Max was 3. At some point during the day he decided he wanted to get his head shaved. We weren’t sure he really knew what it meant until he showed up at the front of the line with $200 in donations. He’s been raising money ever since.” In the 8 years that Max has been participating, he has raised over $12,000. “I am going to keep doing this every year until I raise $20,000” explains Max.


During the 2014 local St. Baldrick’s event, Max was recognized for his amazing fundraising efforts by being made “A Knight of the Bald Table.” Grayson explains, “Max was one of the youngest to be knighted, an honor he takes very seriously.” St. Baldrick’s recognizes those individuals who have volunteered their time for 7 consecutive years by making them “A Knight of the Bald Table.” The St. Baldrick’s website explains the honor as being bestowed upon “those courageous heroes who exhibit unyielding dedication as they continue to motivate and inspire others. They continuously strive to beat childhood cancers by utilizing their knowledge and expertise to pave the way to cures.” St. Baldrick’s is the largest volunteer driven event in the world with the sole mission of raising money for a cure for childhood cancers.


Max is a little boy with a big heart. He participates because he wants to help doctors find a cure so that no child suffers, and he’s had too many of his friends and classmates face cancer in his young life. “I participate in St. Baldrick’s in honor of my friends fighting cancer: Braden, David, Shelby, James, and Sam, and all of their friends. These kids don’t deserve to have to fight cancer. I am trying to help them and their doctors find a cure,” explains Max on his St. Baldrick’s page.


“We’ve seen too many kids in our community be affected by cancer; too many families torn apart by this devastating disease. Research benefits everyone and that’s why we choose to support St. Baldrick’s each year,” explains Grayson. In the 8 years that the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department has been hosting a St. Baldrick’s event, they have raised $284,000, “70 cents of every dollar raised goes toward research and that is a significant contribution and why we continue to participate.”


For Anne it is the direct impact that the event has on the lives of people in our community that motivates her to keep participating. “We’ve gotten to know these families and seen the real impact that St. Baldrick’s has had in their lives, whether it be through research towards medications or assistance with treatment, this event has made a difference in their lives.”


The Lenik’s became involved with the St. Baldrick’s event through Grayson’s participation as a volunteer firefighter with the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department. “Ken Kluth, the Assistant Chief of the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department, was challenged in 2008 by his brother to host an event in Montana.” Kluth, who lost two nephews to cancer and understands first-hand the impact that childhood cancer has on a family, accepted his brother’s challenge and rallied his unit to participate in the event.


“That first year we had 20 shavees and raised $5,653,” explained Anne. From that point the dedication of the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department, the Lenik’s, and others to the cause, began to grow. The next year, they raised $14,786 and then in 2010 their hard work began paying off as word spread throughout the community and more people turned out to support the event. “We added a silent auction that year and had 46 shavees and by the end of the day we had raised $27,777,” states Anne.


By 2013 there were 77 shavees and the event brought in $55,216. “We have sort of plateaued at that level,” explains Grayson. Until this year. During the 2015 event held on April 11th, the group raised $58,525 but would still like to do better. “It’s not too late to contribute to this year’s event. We are so close to our goal and would really like to submit a contribution to St. Baldrick’s from Montana for $60,000,” explains Anne.

This event is a team effort, with countless individuals volunteering time, money, and prizes so that the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department can raise money for such a worthy cause. “Capital City Barber shop has supported us every year by supplying the barbers and shaving equipment,” explains Grayson. “Half of the fun of the event is watching the shavees get shaved.” One crowd favorite is Kelly Delahunt. Delahunt has participated as a shavee for three years, and his signature long beard and hair make him an unlikely candidate to get shaved. “Kelly showed up 3 years ago with a lunch bag filled with cash and this year he was one of the highest money raisers with $6,310 in donations,” explained Anne.


Even companies get together to support the cause. Pacific Steel put together a team of 4 who collected donations in the form of steel to be recycled and then donated $8,100 in cash to St. Baldrick’s on the day of the event. Dustin DeYong led the Bald Bureaucrats with $2,310 in donations. But it’s the smallest participants that have the biggest impact.

This year one individual brought in more donations than any other group, and that honor went to 7 year old cancer survivor James Buchanan who raised $7,500. James was only two when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). James is now cancer free and wants to help other kids with cancer realize their dream of finding a cure, “I was diagnosed with a hard to cure type of leukemia. There hadn't been any kids who had lived. Because people cared enough to donate to charity, I received a new kind of treatment. Despite the odds, I survived. It is my mission to help all kids receive the gift of survival. All kids deserve their best chance at a cure. St. Baldrick's Foundation makes that possible because they take your donations and turn them into better treatments and cures.”


“It’s an emotional day. From the introduction of survivors to the honoring of those we lost in the past year to watching a community come together to support one another and raise money, it is truly inspiring,” reflects Grayson.

Anyone interested in making a donation can log onto Max’s page at: https://www.stBaldrick’s.org/participants/mypage/779724/2015 or contact Anne directly at 406-461-7734. For more information on St. Baldrick’s, log onto http://www.stbaldricks.org/

#‎BeTheChangeOthersNeedToSee‬

Turning a Negative into a Positive

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/turning-negative-positive-patricia-spencer?trk=prof-post

Leadership is an Action not a Position." Donald McGannon

As a family, we worked tirelessly this Legislative session to get HB284, Montana's Anti-Bullying Law, passed in order to change things here in Montana. Until last week, Montana was the only state without an Anti-bullying law. With the work of a lot of dedicated people, together we were able to make a difference. But to be honest, our involvement with HB284 began as the result of a personal tragedy.


In August of 2012, my son Jacob was sitting on the bottom bleacher in the multipurpose room at school with friends when he was attacked from behind by a student who was known by school officials to be violent and prone to outbursts. My son hit his head so hard on the floor, that he suffered a severe concussion that resulted in permanent neurological damage.


Believing in the school system, we tried working with school officials to address the situation. We met road block, after road block and yet the attacks on my son continued, on school property, by the same individual. Always from behind and always without warning and never was punishment given to the other student.


We obtained legal counsel. Our attorney was met with the same resistance we had been experiencing. Our school retained legal advice from the Montana School Board Association, who informed our attorney that this individual had more rights than our son to receive a “Free and Safe Education.”


Ultimately, our attorney was able to get information from the school regarding other incidents involving this same student. In short, those incidents included: a student being choked; a student being punched as they walked around a corner; a student being kicked in the mouth on the school bus; a classroom having to be evacuated because this student began throwing chairs; a substitute teacher being punched; and another threat to obtain a gun and shoot the principal.


My son’s life has been irrevocably changed because of the abuse he suffered while at school at the hands of another student. Our schools need to address the fact that physical and emotional abuse is happening by other students towards other students; abuse that has life-long ramifications. As educators, they need to be able to teach our children in a safe environment.


My son tried going to his teachers, school counselor, and principal for help and they failed him. At the request of our son, we became involved with Bully Free Montana to get the Montana Anti-Bullying Law passed. For ten years Montana law makers tried to get some form of anti-bullying legislation passed to no avail.


We joined forces with a lot of other individuals who wanted to send the message to this Legislature that enough was enough; that our children deserved to be protected from other students while on school property.


Jacob wrote letters to legislators; sat in on committee hearings; attended House Floor sessions; and Jacob was present at each Senate and House vote…when we couldn’t be at the Capitol, we watched from home. The members of the 64th Montana Legislature listened to Jacob, and everyone else who testified, and on Monday, April 13th the Montana House of Representatives passed HB284, Montana’s Anti-Bullying Law, ending Montana’s distinction of being the ONLY state without such a law.


At the end of the vote, Jacob was introduced to the House and recognized for his hard work and dedication to getting this bill passed. As he walked through the halls of the Capitol that afternoon, receiving high-fives and fist-bumps from Senators, Representatives, and Lobbyists he turned to me and said, “Mom, someone finally listened to me!”


Jacob was invited by the Bill’s sponsor, Representative Kimberly Dudik of Missoula, to be present at the Bill signing on April 21st. On a bright, sunny Montana day, Jacob stood behind Governor Steve Bullock and watched as the Governor signed HB284 into Law. That afternoon was historic for Montana, and for our family, as that was the day Jacob’s healing finally began.


Taking a leadership role doesn’t always make you the most popular person. People in our community are upset that we took our story to the Legislature, but by telling our story, we were able to help ALL kids in Montana and that is what matters. We wanted to ensure that no other family endures what our family has endured, and by becoming advocates for anti-bullying measures we can turn a negative personal experience into a positive change for the children of Montana. #‎BeTheChangeOthersNeedToSee‬ #BullyFreeMontana #StompOutBullying #ISupportNoMatter