BELMAR— Students at Belmar Elementary School raised more than $7,000 on Saturday for a friend and classmate battling cancer.
With a large supply of lemonade and water bottles, the eighth-grade students set up shop on 17th Avenue in Belmar and North Boulevard, in Lake Como, to raise whatever they could to help Jackie Ramirez, a fellow student at Belmar Elementary School.
“Jackie has been our friend for a very long time and she was recently diagnosed with cancer. She loves to play basketball and we want her to get better so one day she can play in the WNBA, which is one of her dreams,” said Rebecca Hingher, an eighth grade student at Belmar Elementary School. She said she has known Jackie since kindergarten.
The lemonade stand was busy throughout the day, with community members, police officers and other first responders stopping by to make a donation and to pick up a drink.
Cars also lined up on 17th Avenue to do their part.
“We just wanted to do this to show her our support and how much we love her and to keep her happy, she is our best friend,” eighth-grader, Valerie Fernandez, said.
The event was as much to raise awareness of Jackie’s plight as it was to raise funds.
“We wanted to spread the word of Jackie’s illness so they could get money for her GoFundMe,” Hope Wilton, another eighth-grader said. “We just love Jackie so much and she has done so much for us over the years and we wanted to give back and show her support and that we are here for her every step of the way.”
According to Kimberly Chek, a parent of one of the students who organized the fundraiser, parents had very little to do with the event other than buying supplies. The main drivers of the event were the children.
Other participants included Belmar students Brianna Pyne, Sydnie Chek, Julia Fahy, Lola Sharp, Kira Tolomanosi, Ronni Whille, Sean Busk, Emma Preston, Emily Black, Dana Radel, Bailey Czekalski and Dani Panetta.
“It’s very emotional for everybody,” Ms. Chek said. “They just want to do something for their friend, they are worried for her, they’re concerned and they just want to … make sure she gets the best help she could get.”
Maria Ramirez, Jackie’s older sister, started a GoFundMe campaign which as of Tuesday had raised $62,561. According to the campaign description Jackie, 13, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma on Aug. 14. The disease, which according to the American Cancer Society forms in skeletal muscle, is now in stage four.
“Although this has impacted us drastically, we are not in any way going to give up,” the description said. “Our hope now lies with another two types of treatments that are not covered by her medical insurance.”
The first is an immunotherapy treatment which is offered in Europe, and the second is a “functional and integrative medicine which will offer a personalized healing approach through physical, emotional, detox, nutrition, cellular, neurological and bio-energetic therapies.”
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