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Principal to kiss a pig after students raise $20,000 for leukemia victim

Posted on 11/04/2010 12:00am

By Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun
April 11, 2010

What's it worth to see your school principal kiss a pig?

About $20,000, apparently.

That's what students at Richardson elementary raised when one of their own - 10-year-old Amrita Samra - fell ill with leukemia.

Seeing the principal kiss a pig at a school celebration Monday was just one of the innovative incentives the organizing committee came up with to get kids excited about their April 1 fundraiser, a Walk to Wellness, to benefit BC Children's hospital.

"We promised the kids we'd take pies in the face for every thousand we raised; for $3,000 our police liaison officer would dye his hair blue and get a mohawk; and for $5,000 the vice-principal, Mark Douangchanh, would eat a bowl of crickets," said principal Nancy Gordon.

The $20,000 raised is well over the $5,000 organizers and students had been aiming for.

"In this community, which is not affluent, it would have been a lofty goal to get to $5,000," said Gordon.

Samra's family is touched by the efforts her schoolmates have made.

"The diagnosis was a shock," said her father, Sapinder Samra. "She had been healthy and active and there was no history of cancer in our family."

Amrita was admitted to BC Children's hospital last July to begin the first of several rounds of chemotherapy for Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia.

When September arrived, staff and classmates at Richardson missed her - and wanted to do something.

"She is a beautiful girl, very sweet, very humble, and they're a marvellous family," said Gordon.

Whether it was the incentives, including entry into a prize draw for every $20 pledge, or just the kids' eagerness to help, the Walk for Wellness raised more than anyone expected.

Richardson students got creative. Instead of just hitting up the neighbours, kids stood outside Superstore; a couple of kids spent their weekends at their grandfather's bottle depot collecting change as people came out; one three-year-old offered his entire fortune: 53 cents from his piggy bank.

"The outpouring of compassion was huge," said Gordon.

Vice-principal Douangchanh, who spoke to The Vancouver Sun on Friday, said he wasn't sure how he was going to prep the crickets for eating.

He's heard about chocolate-covered crickets available at specialty candy stores, but he said "that would be too easy. The kids were excited by the gross factor, and they deserve to see me come through."

Amrita is still receiving treatments for the illness, but hopes to be at the event today, and plans to return to school later this month.

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