Brooke Shalstrom

Senior Campaign Manager for the Wisconsin Chapter for the Leukemia, Lymphoma Society, Brooke Shalstrom, teaches students about white blood cells, platelets and oxygen with three special Osceola Elementary helpers at the Pennies for Patients kick-off.


Pennies may not seem very useful, but when they help kids fight cancer, their value becomes golden. This year’s 25th anniversary of Pennies for Patients kicked off January 31 at the Osceola Elementary school with a performance by the Osceola High School band, and fun presentations to show kids the value of helping cancer survivors with their pennies. 

“In 1994, my brother was diagnosed with leukemia,” says former Osceola second grade teacher Barbara Jorgensen. “He bravely fought this battle for two years before it took his life. The principal contacted me with information about Pennies for Patients and asked me if I was interested in leading this cause and of course I said, ‘yes.’” 

Since that time, Jorgensen has helped to organize Pennies for Patients for 25 years, a feat that has helped to save the lives of multiple students diagnosed with the incredibly difficult disease of cancer. When asked what 25 years of support for this cause means, she replied, “It means that we have a wonderful, caring community that continues to support our efforts.  People save their pennies year round for us - nickels, dimes, and quarters too.”

Osceola Elementary students have the entire month of February to collect as much change as they can before donating the funds to students who have been diagnosed. The goal this year is $2,020 for year 2020 and if the kids make that goal, they receive a special prize.

Osceola elementary teachers will participate in a special game called “egg roulette” where they will take turns picking up eggs – some hardboiled, some not- and crack them on their heads! This is sure to be a fun show and a great incentive for the kids to raise $2020. 

Now that the event has started, students and parents alike are encouraged to help the kids meet their $2020 goal before the end of February. Students were encouraged to look in their couch cushions, donate payment from household chores, and even set up online donations platforms like with the help of their parents. Whether or not that goal is met, the mission is clear: fighting cancer is possible no matter your age, or how much money you can donate.

“It is amazing the support we receive from the families and the entire community,” says Jorgensen. “The kids are so proud to have a part in saving lives, and every penny makes a difference. Our change can make a change in cancer!”

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