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ANN BUZINSKIF. EUGENE BAILEY
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Posted: 02/20/13


Above, students show their love and support for Shelby Lewis with a banner.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Charity Week donates
$18,000 to RHS senior

Student to split donation
with Children's Hospital

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Although snow postponed the Feb. 8 Charity Week celebration, students were fired up as they presented one of their peers with a contribution to fight debilitating diseases.
       After a snow day set the Charity Week pep rally back, students rejoiced on Feb. 14 as they donated $18,000 to be split between Romeo Hig School senior Shelby Lewis and the Children's Hospital of Michigan.
       Lewis, 18, of Ray Township, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia on May 18. The condition causes the body's bone marrow to not produce enough red and white cells and platelets. This reduces the body's ability to carry oxygen in its blood, fight off germs and prevent blood clots.
       She is also diagnosed with hypoplastic MDS, a similar disease to aplastic anemia. Symtoms include weakness, fatigue, bleeding and infections.
       As a result, Lewis was forced to cut some of her pastimes like dancing and soccer due to a lack of energy. She goes in for blood work every two weeks, with her latest blood transfusion on Aug. 30.
       At the pep rally, the noise level dropped to zero as students watched Drew Pointe, a junior who was the recipient of last year's Charity Week, present the check to Lewis and her family.
       "This year, more than anything, it's awesome to be on the other side of that and to give to that," he said.
       Lewis said the experience was overwhelming and was grateful for the community coming together.
       "It was good, and I'm thankful for everybody that helped out," she said. "It just shows you how good people are."
       Anne Marucci, Lewis' mother, said the donation meant a lot because the family wasn't sure what would happen to Lewis after she was diagnosed.
       "My very heartfelt thank you for everything that you've done for her," she told the packed gymnasium.
       Students released a deafening cheer after Marucci announced that Lewis has three perfect matches for a bone marrow transplant, a potential cure for the disease. The hospital recommended the transplant around November, but so far Lewis has held her own.
       The transplant would call for five days of chemotherapy and five weeks of quarantine due to a weakened immune system.
       "She'll basically be homebound for at least three months because of the bone marrow trying to set in," Marucci said.
       Marucci encouraged students age 18 and over to be tested for bone marrow, and stressed the importance of getting blood work done, saying Lewis could've had a heart attack due to her low blood levels if they hadn't checked her.
       "It hurts for a second, just do it, it'll save your life," she said.
       Lewis wasn't the only benefactor of the school's generosity. Marucci said Lewis was inspired to help the Children's Hospital of Michigan after her stay there and wanted the donation to go to them, but accepted a contribution from the school when she learned both the students and staff wanted to help.
       To raise the money during Charity Week, local restaurants provided a portion of their proceeds on certain days to the cause, while Student Council and other groups held fundraising activities like collecting change during Penny Wars, the Mr. Bulldog competition, sports tournaments and a charity dance.
       The Penny Wars collected more than $4,100, while Mr. Bulldog raked in $3,800.
       Molly Michaels, sophomore and vice-president of the Class of 2016 Student Council, said she was proud of the school and community for donating time and money.
       "It's important to us, it's our top thing for not only Shelby, but to show the community we're not just `go football,'" Michaels said.
      


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