, Muskogee, OK

April 24, 2013

Kids crusade to battle childhood cancer

Irving, Hilldale team to help student’s treatment

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Irving Elementary students are reaching across school district lines to help a Hilldale Elementary student deal with cancer.

Brooke Sides, a Hilldale fifth-grader, was diagnosed with a tumor in the back of her brain in April 2012. She has spent the past year undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.

The students are taking donations through May 8 for their “Kids Crusade to Fight Childhood Cancer.” For every dollar donated to the crusade, a purple tulip will be displayed May 9 in front of Irving Elementary, 1100 N. J St.

Purple is Brooke Sides’ favorite color, said Teresa Little, Irving’s Native American Student Advocacy (NASA) sponsor.

Traci Sides, Brooke’s mother, said such help “means the world to us.”

Sides said she has tried to keep track of the expenses her family faces, but “it’s so hard.”

She said her daughter has undergone 30 radiation treatments, nine inpatient treatments, 14 outpatient treatments and five blood transfusions. Sides said Brooke is going for another overnight treatment this weekend at the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.

Brooke goes to school a half-day, Sides said.

Little said members of her NASA group came up with the idea of raising money for a local child. She said many are fifth-graders, just like Brooke.

“We wanted to help someone we can relate to,” said Irving student Violet Porter.

Fellow student Preston Royce said he hopes the school can raise $400 to $500 with its tulip project.

Little said the school found out about Brooke because Irving sixth-grade teacher Cindy Tollison is a Facebook friend of Traci Sides.

“We didn’t know her, but she’s still a neighbor,” Little said about Brooke. “The NASA group asked Mrs. Fleak, the principal, and she loved the idea.”

“I just think it’s a good idea for our kids to show support in our community, not just in our school,” said Irving Principal Kim Fleak.

Hilldale Upper and Lower Elementary Principal Kair Ridenhour said he appreciates the help from the Irving students. It adds to what students at Brooke’s school have done.

“We sold T-shirts to raise money, had dinners, and two or three fundraisers,” Ridenhour said.

He said Brooke is doing pretty well at school.

“She has good support from her family,” Ridenhour said. “They keep her up with her work and keep her on grade level.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

You can help

To help Irving Elementary students’ Kids Crusade to Fight Childhood Cancer, bring your donation to Irving Elementary School, 1100 N. J St., through May 8. Information: (918) 684-3840.