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Twain steps up to challenge - Students help raise funds to battle breast cancer

When Elizabeth Calise saw that her school, Mark Twain IS 239, raised the second most of any school in Brooklyn for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, she wasn’t satisfied. She knew they could do better.

“I challenged the students,” Calise said at the Making Strides kick-off breakfast. “And I didn’t have to do much more than that. They didn’t do it for recognition, they did it because it made them feel good caring about other people.”

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a fun way for the whole family, or in the case of Mark Twain IS 239, 2401 Neptune Avenue, a fun way for the whole school to get involved in the fight against breast cancer. You can build a team with family, friends, and/or co-workers to walk in honor of someone who lost their battle to cancer or in celebration of a survivor.

Calise’s students raised $21,000 for Making Strides last year. That number beat the previous year’s mark by $17,000 and made Mark Twain IS 239 the highest fundraising school in all of New York City area. She said they plan to beat that number again this year.

“These kids are motivated,” Calise said. “All I have to do is give them reminders and a little incentive, and they do the rest.”

Calise, one of several speakers at the breakfast, said she made homeroom announcements every morning, sent students home with reminders for their parents and gave extra English credit for a writing assignment to help encourage students.

Mark Twain’s contribution helped last year’s Making Strides walk at Prospect Park raise more than $900,000, a new record. American Cancer Society Strides Coordinator Tania Kirkman is encouraging Calise, her students and all Making Strides participants to go even higher this year with an overall goal of a million dollars.

“The time for thousands is over,” Kirkman said. “We’re going onto millions in 2008.” She was referring to this year’s goal of a million dollars or more donated. More than 600 people attended the kick-off breakfast, which included several inspirational survivor stories and videos, as well as speakers for this year’s flagship sponsors: SUNY Downstate, Preferred Health Partners, Curves, Pathmark and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

To get involved in this year’s event and play your part in the fight against breast cancer, visit www.cancer.org/stridesonline or call the American Cancer Society 1-800-ACS-2345.

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