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Every kid loves hearing the “clink” of a coin dropping into their piggy bank. But for students at St. Anthony on the Lake, that clink will soon mean something else altogether.

From Sept. 12-16, students at St. Anthony will participate in the G9 Penny Wars to help raise funds for G9 (Gold in September), a project whose goal is to bring awareness to childhood cancer.

Parent volunteer Annie Staebler explained that for an entire week, teams of students at the school will compete to collect as many points as possible by adding and subtracting the value of coins and dollar bills. Students put pennies in their team’s container, each penny being worth 1 point. Points are subtracted when students put silver coins or dollar bills into the containers of other teams. So, a nickel reduces points by 5, a dime by 10, and so on. The team with the most points at the end wins. But in the end, the real winner is G9.

“The goal of G9 Penny Wars is for teams, whether you win or lose, to raise awareness and funds to support childhood cancer research. And it’s an easy way to put spare change to good use,” said Staebler.

All funds raised will be donated to the G9 Project.

As part of the event, the church will hold its fourth annual G9 Mass on Sept. 21. Each year, the Mass is dedicated to a person or family. This year, the Mass is dedicated to St. Anthony parishioner Eli Hansen and his family. Eli was diagnosed with high-risk Stage IV neuroblastoma in April 2016 at the age of 4, explained his mother, Jamie. He’s receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and has completed five rounds of chemotherapy, as well as surgery to remove his main tumor.

“We are incredibly grateful for all the support, prayers and love we receive from our church family at St. Anthony on the Lake. We are especially thankful to these school kids who pray for Eli on a regular basis in addition to praying for him at this Mass,” said Hansen.

She added that the event supports the family’s hope of building more awareness for childhood cancer and funding.

After Mass, a ceremonial balloon release will be held. Staebler said, “The balloon release is a symbolic way for us to send our prayers up to God.” Almost everyone knows someone affected by cancer, so names submitted by the school and parish are read, and the balloons are sent above along with prayers.

She and her husband lost their son Jack almost six years ago to SIDS, and every year on his birthday, the family goes to the cemetery and sends up biodegradable balloons to him.

“Something about sitting there, watching the balloons float into the sky, makes us feel like heaven isn't so far away,” she said.

About G9

The G9 Project was started by Annie Bartosz whose twin brother, Jack, died in August 2012 after a long battle with neuroblastoma. The project’s mission is to raise awareness and inspire action for childhood cancer efforts. Gold is the national color for childhood cancer. For more information, visit  www.goldinseptember.com.

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