Whidbey News-Times


Coupeville kids with a cause

Whidbey News-Times Staff Reporter
November 3, 2013 · Updated 8:44 AM

Coupeville Elementary fifth-graders Brooke Ausman, left, and Coral Caveness, right, count the money their club raised to help Brooke’s mom fight breast cancer. Both girls are the presidents of the Breast Cancer Club they founded with other classmates. / Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Seven fifth-graders’ determination to help one of their ailing moms is paying off.

The Breast Cancer Club, comprised of Coupeville Elementary students, raised approximately $607.92.

The jars were distributed around to Oak Harbor and Coupeville businesses, including Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, Hallmark and New Image Hair Salon.

When the club members came into the room to tally their efforts, they were astounded.

“Oh my goodness, look how much money there is!” said club member Knight Arndt.

Brooke Ausman and Coral Caveness started the club, and approached Coupeville Elementary School Counselor Dana Stone with the idea in early October.

They wanted to help Brooke’s mom, who has stage four breast cancer.

The fundraiser would help pay for her treatments. Donations couldn’t be collected at school, so they came up with different options to make the club work.

“I thought, ‘wow,’” Stone said, “’what a neat thing for the kids to do, and how they’re thinking beyond themselves.’”

By mid-November, Brooke said the group placed collection jars at businesses with the club’s mission written on them. They also made posters at school to let people know where they could find the jars.

What impressed Stone most was how committed the students were to the club. Even though their first ideas didn’t work out, they were committed to make it happen.

“The same seven kids stuck with it the entire time,” Stone said. “It’s been fun to see their enthusiasm an commitment.”

Brooke and Coral are the presidents of the club, and Lily Zustiak is the vice president. Other members include Nicole Bishop-Sipes, Daniel Olson, Lillyann Tornensis and Knight Arndt.

They held meetings during recess to plan for fundraising efforts.

“It’s what we wanted to do for a long time and we succeeded,” Coral said.

When they set up the jars, they all had $1.50 in them to start, Coral said. Normally when you see jars around town, they only have about $10 in them. When the Breast Cancer Club jars came back full, she was excited.

“I’m glad all my friends have helped,” Brooke said.

Brooke said she knew some of the club members before it started, but became close friends with everyone involved.

“It brought us closer together.”

Coral said they are all Brooke’s best friends now.

All the students joined the club because they wanted to support their friend Brooke and help her mom, but some also had their own experiences of dealing with breast cancer in their families.

Lillyann said her grandmother had breast cancer, so she wanted to help. Daniel knew people in his family who dealt with cancer, and that’s what drew him to the club,

“I had a friend who had cancer and I knew it was important to help,” Lily said.

Tamra Sipes, Nicole’s mother, saw her daughter working on a poster at home. When she asked her what the poster was for, Nicole explained it was for the Breast Cancer Club.

Sipes said she asked if the school organized the club, and Nicole said her friends started it at recess explained the club’s goal.

The level of organization surprised Sipes as her daughter explained they had officers and club members who preformed certain duties.

“My mom is proud that a lot of kids are doing this,” Nicole said.

Stone said she just helped facilitate the children’s idea, and that all the work came from the kids.

“The school has been fabulous,” Sipes said. “They’ve helped encouraged them throughout this experience.”

After seeing what they can accomplish, the fifth-graders said they want to start helping out a charity.

As the students tallied their collections, they all went up to Brooke and hugged her.

“That’s awesome, Brooke,” Knight said. “Your mom is going to be so proud of you.”

Knight said parents keep coming up to her and giving her a dollar here and there to help with the fundraiser.

“We want to thank all the people who donated,” Coral said.

“We never thought this could happen.


The Breast Cancer Club jars can be found at Hallmark, New Image Salon, Prairie Center Red Apple Market, Front Street Grill and Christopher’s.

Those interested in donating can also check out their Facebook page.


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