MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students at South Middle School are organizing a fundraiser to benefit Bonnie’s Bus, a mobile mammography program operated by their partner in education, the WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC). The school’s Connect-athon fundraiser will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 4, at South Middle.

“We are calling our fundraiser Connect-athon because we are connecting with the Cancer Center and with families and friends for a worthy cause,” Sue Heydon, assistant principal at South Middle, said. “We are hoping it will be a big family day and that the general public will join us and support this effort.”

During a kick-off assembly at the school, Sara Jane Gainor, director of the Bonnie’s Bus Mobile Mammography Program, talked to students about the mission of the Bus and the impact their fundraiser will have.  
“Bonnie’s Bus goes all over the state to provide women the opportunity to have a mammogram,” Gainor said. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that we never turn any woman away even when she doesn’t have health insurance. The money you raise will help pay for mammograms for women who can’t afford them.”

Grace Hagerty, a seventh grader at South Middle, said, “I think raising money for Bonnie’s Bus is a good thing to do because the Bus helps women find out if they have breast cancer, and the sooner they find out, the sooner they can get treatment.”

“I like the whole idea of doing a fundraiser to help women who visit Bonnie's Bus,” added eighth grader Dontae Wilson. “I like knowing that the Bus helps women who can’t afford to pay for a mammogram.”

The Connect-athon will feature a fun run or walk ranging from one to five miles. Participants will be asked to buy a Connect-athon T-shirt designed by one of the eighth grade students at South Middle, and ask their families and friends to sponsor their participation. The event will include carnival-like games, food booths and music provided by the school’s jazz band.  Any vendor interested in participating may purchase a table for $10 with the table rental money going toward the fundraiser.

South Middle School and the Cancer Center have been partners in education since 2000. The Partnerships in Education Program is a statewide initiative linking schools and students with businesses and organizations in the community in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.  The program brings the expertise, skills and people from both entities together to share ideas, knowledge, resources and a vision for the future.

The Cancer Center uses the partnership as an educational opportunity to raise cancer awareness among students and to nurture their interest in cancer research. Over the years, WVU cancer experts have made presentations to students on the negative effects of tobacco use and participated in the school’s Technology Night. South Middle brings a community service aspect to the partnership. The student body has participated in several fundraisers and has donated nearly $5,000 to benefit patients at the MBRCC since the partnership began.

For more information about the Connect-athon, contact Sue Heydon at South Middle School at 304-291-9204 or visit the school’s website at where you can also register for the event. The registration deadline is April 30.  The cost for participation is $10, which includes a Connect-athon T-shirt.

Photo caption: Sara Jane Gainor, director of the Bonnie’s Bus Mobile Mammography Program, talks to South Middle School students about the mission of the Bus and the impact their fundraiser will have on the program.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
ss: 04-16-13