No One Fights Alone: IM students help ailing classmate

IRON MOUNTAIN – Eighth graders in John Hogberg’s gym classes at Central Middle School have been busy raising money to help out a fellow student.

Eighth graders at Central Middle School in Iron Mountain have been busy this semester helping their classmate, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments in Madison.

It all started with a fundraiser in the two eighth grade gym classes and has continued on through students at Bishop Baraga Catholic School and the Central Middle School Student Council. Some of the eighth grade students involved, include Sarah Roell from BBCS; Brianna Hoffman; Dylan Spade; Rimick Cain; and teacher John Hogberg, who initiated the first fund-raising effort by the students.

And the results have been spectacular with the kids greatly surpassing what school officials imagined they could do.

Hogberg had felt that the students could do something to raise some money for Johnathon Thomas, one of his students that had cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy in Madison.

“I thought the students in my gym classes could help Johnathon’s family out with some of the expenses they have when he undergoes treatment. The idea was to have the kids run laps during class and get donations for each lap they ran from family and friends,” Hogberg said.

He noted that he has 57 students in the two classes and he thought if everyone could raise $5 or $10, they could come up with $500 to give the Thomas family to help with expenses.

“But they went above and beyond what I ever thought they could do. With this small group of kids, they raised $2,200. They got donations from family and friends and I had one student who has a paper route who got donations from his customers, too. This fund-raiser, Jogging for Johnathon, exceeded my expectations,” Hogberg said.

Among the students in Hogberg’s physical education class are seven students that attend Bishop Baraga Catholic School in Iron Mountain.

One of the students, Sarah Roell, came up with the idea of doing a fund-raiser at her school for Johnathon. The BBCS students had a crazy hat day, where they paid $1 to be able to wear a hat in school all day. This effort raised another $64 for the Thomas family.

Brianna Hoffman and Dylan Spade are two members of the Central Middle School Student Council and that group decided to also get involved in helping their classmate.

Two different fund-rasisers were held by the student council with the first being an ice cream social. They raised $266 and an anonymous donor matched their efforts for a total of $532 raised.

The second fund-raiser that the middle school student council got involved in was a pajama bottom day. By paying a $1, students could wear their pajama bottoms to school that day. “PJs for JT” raised more than $300 and was held along with the teachers’ denim day.

But the students are not finished with their fund-raising efforts.

They are continuing to show their support for Johnathon and his family by selling multi-colored wristbands. Each color on the band represents a different type of cancer.

The wristbands have “No One Fights Alone” on them, and that’s what the fund-raiser and signs in school also say in support of Johnathon.

Hogberg noted that he found out at the beginning of the semester that Johnathon had cancer. He had surgery to remove it and has to go every 15 days to have a series of five days of chemotherapy. This will go on for the next eight months.

“He’s doing pretty good,” said Rimick Cain, one of his classmates and friends that checks in with him when he’s home. He added that test results have been negative since he had the surgery to remove the cancer.

Hogberg said that Johnathon has been doing what he can to keep up with this school work so he’s ready for his freshman year next fall.

Principal Maryann Boddy was also impressed with the students’ efforts to raise money for their classmate.

“Many kids continued to come into the office on the day we had the pajama fund-raiser,” Boddy said. “Whatever they had left over from their lunch money or in their pockets, they wanted to donate to it. It was anywhere from 36 cents to $20 that came in. It was awesome to see how caring the students were and that they wanted to do something for their classmate.”

She added that they now have banners up in the hallways that say, “No One Fights Alone,” and they are continuing to raise money. “I’m very impressed with all the middle school students and this student council – they’ve shown great leadership.”

Boddy noted that Johnathon is keeping up with his school work although he is not in school. His sister, McKenzie, a sophomore at Iron Mountain High School, has been helping him with his work and has been a bridge for him between home and school.