Pleasanton Weekly

Column - May 20, 2011

Hart 6th-grade girls help leukemia research

by Jeb Bing

Two sixth-grade girls at Hart Middle School put zest into their assignment by teacher Terry Ludlow to undertake a community service project, raising more than $3,500 in just a couple of weeks for leukemia research. For one of the girls, 12-year-old Katie Crawford, the effort was on the personal side. Her mother Nancy, 52, was recently diagnosed with a mild form of leukemia. Although tests show no treatments are necessary now and she's likely to have many trouble-free years ahead, the news nevertheless shook the Crawfords' Laguna Oaks household.

Kate recalls that when her mother was diagnosed with leukemia in early November, her family was devastated and heartbroken. She said that every night she would cry herself to sleep not knowing what might come the next day. Luckily, Kate adds, her mother's disease was in the early stages and her test results were as good as one with leukemia can get. As long as she stays fit and healthy, her good health and mobility should continue.

Lifestyle changes came quickly, with Nancy, her husband Robert, Kate and her twin sister Chrissy buying into a new regimen that includes more exercise and healthier food. Sugars and all processed foods were the first to go. Blueberries are in along with broccoli, heavy vegetables, multi-grain bread, and, curiously, sour dough bread which doctors say also is healthy. Everyone makes sure the diet is followed, including the Crawfords' two older sons when they stop in to visit.

When Ludlow gave out the community service assignment, Kate and her classmate Gracie McKeag, also 12, set out to do as much as they could to help Nancy Crawford in her battle to keep her chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) at bay. Given that those with CLL at her age have 15-20 years before treatments may become necessary, the girls decided time was on their side so they chose raising money for more leukemia research as their class project.

Their first roadblock was when they were told they couldn't do a raffle at Hart Middle School because raffles are considered to be gambling. So then they took their campaign to Farmers Market on a Saturday morning only to be stopped again by more regulations. So May 4, Kate and Grace walked downtown streets during the First Wednesday street party, raising several hundred dollars in gift certificates and merchandise to use at a raffle they finally conducted last Saturday at the Laguna Oaks clubhouse.

Merchants pitched in. La di da Beauty Lounge gave the girls a gift certificate to raffle off $200 worth of facials and more. Gift certificates valued at $50 were given to the girls by the English Rose Tea Room, Pasta's Trattoria and Studio Seven. Other merchants offered gift certificates, including Gourmet Works, Sincerely Yours Card and Gifts, Gamma Salon, Cupid's Tooth and Fusion 3 Salon Spa. Newly-opened Balloons and Beyond provided 100 balloons that the store then strung across the archway of the Laguna Oaks clubhouse. Football Hall of Famer Rod Woodson provided a signed, official NFL football and two mini Oakland Raider helmets.

Roberta Gonzales, the weather reporter for CBS/Channel 5 and a Pleasanton resident, gave a certificate offering a tour of CBS 5 for up to four individuals. Then she went one step farther by showing up at Saturday's raffle to help the girls draw the winning tickets and make the awards.

This incredible determination to raise money for the Leukemia Research Foundation also caught the attention of Mia Sole, the start-up solar panel manufacturer in Santa Clara where Nancy Crawford heads up Human Resources. It agreed to match the amount Kate and Grace raised. With checks still coming in, that could significantly boost the contributions for research that might one day find a cure for CLL and directly help Crawford.

"I have realized that life isn't about what the future holds, it's about living in the moment," Kate said. "To not be scared was hard, but as long as we have positive attitudes and are always happy then everything will be just fine."

Besides their involvement in raising money for the Leukemia Foundation, the family has now joined the local arm of the National Charity League to volunteer on other projects. Hart teacher Terry Ludlow should be proud that her end-of-the-year class assignment is producing such good results.


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