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Pupils don hats in school to help ill classmate



Published: Fri, November 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Pupils have raised more than $2,000 to help their classmate and his family.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Eighth-grader Deanna Buehrle would typically be scolded for wearing a gaudy hat to class at Austintown Middle School. Recently, however, her blinking and lighted hat earned her recognition.

Deanna, 13, was among those who wore a hat to class Friday at the middle school as part of a benefit for the family of Thomas Sankey, an eighth-grader preparing to undergo a bone-marrow transplant. Pupils raised $737 for Thomas' family by selling $1 "permits" to teachers and their classmates that allowed them to wear hats to class.

Hats are otherwise prohibited in the school.

The $737 check was presented to Thomas' parents, Linda and Martin, on Tuesday.

Awards: Some of the pupils, including Deanna, received awards for their hats. Hers featured blinking electronic lights.

Another pupil received an award for a top hat he had created, which bore a sign, "Hats on for Tom Sankey."

"It was a fun day, but at the same time, it was rewarding," said Principal Dan Bokesch.

Eighth-grader Anthony Berdis, 13, added that he felt his classmates should be praised for their willingness to help. "It's been a good experience for all of us," he said.

Linda said she expects the cost of the bone-marrow transplant to be "astronomical." Linda, a telemarketer, and Martin, a freelance graphic designer, have medical insurance but it will not pay some of the costs.

Support: In September, pupils at Austintown Middle School and Frank Ohl Middle School held a benefit dance that raised $1,400 for the family.

Chris Berni, assistant principal, said he felt many pupils have a bond with Thomas, and as a result, they wanted to support his family. Linda described the support her family has received from the pupils and other Austintown residents as "phenomenal."

Donations can be made to the Sankey family by contacting the Second National Bank branch on state Route 46 in Austintown.

hill@vindy.com




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