Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Centennial Middle rallies around two students battling cancer

RECOMMENDED READING


DADE CITY

Hailey Limoges was determined to keep her spot on the cheerleading squad at Centennial Middle School. Even if the 12-year-old was battling stage 3 ovarian cancer.

So Hailey, who was diagnosed in April, filmed a tryout tape while she was undergoing treatment at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

"She made the team again," said Centennial Middle cheerleading coach Becky Maxwell, beaming with pride.

The school has rallied around Hailey, a seventh-grader. Her fight especially hit home with Shane Salyer, 12, a sixth-grader at Centennial Middle who had been in remission for two years after battling a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The moment he heard about Hailey's diagnosis, Shane started organizing fundraisers for her.

"He's a very giving person," Centennial teacher Martha Pekarek said. "And she would have done the same for him. She has a huge heart."

Then in early May, Shane learned his lymphoma had returned. Now he's back at Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

And the fundraising effort to help one Centennial Middle kid with cancer has grown to help two.

The staff and students have organized a June 14 fish fry to raise money for Hailey's and Shane's medical costs. Various student clubs are selling tickets and have volunteered to help run the event.

"These are our kids too. We see them every day at the school," said Cpl. Scott Raymer, the school resource officer at Centennial Middle. He also works with Hailey's father, Lorenzo "Emile" Limoges, who is a detention deputy at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

"As a police officer I have the weapons to fight the bad guys, but I can't fight cancer," Raymer said. "I can't go and beat up cancer for these kids."

Both families have close ties to the community.

Shane's mother, Cheryl, is a full-time exceptional student education teacher at Centennial; she is on leave to care for Shane. His father, David, works at Plastipak. The couple has an older son, Ryan.

Hailey's mother, Julie Harrelson, works for Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. Hailey has a twin sister, Hannah, who is also on the Centennial Middle cheerleading team.

"When I found out that my sister had cancer, it was really hard," Hannah said. "But she's really strong. She keeps saying that nothing else bad is going to happen. She's a fighter."

Hailey returned to the school for a recent meeting with the cheerleading team. Her teammates met her with hugs and cheers. Shane's classmates have been able to communicate with him through Internet "face time" sessions.

"We could tell he was fighting," said Mackenzie Green, 12. "A lot of people around here want to help."

In addition to helping plan the fish fry, guidance counselors Susan Larkin-Douberley and Susan Sesker have been talking to students who have questions and concerns about their classmates' conditions.

"The kids come to us, we share, and we talk," Larkin-Douberley said. "This is the scariest thing."

But they continue to draw strength from the brave example of both kids. Shane is a longtime performer at Arts in Motion, a local youth theater group. This spring Shane played the role of Eugene in the group's production of Grease. He performed his final show the night that he went into the hospital to undergo surgery and begin his treatments.

"He's so talented and brings so much to every role," AIM board member Kris Cloversettle said. "We want him back on our stage soon."

Members of the theater group are selling hope bracelets engraved with Shane's name to help raise money for his treatments.

Centennial Middle principal Jim Lane is proud of his community's joint effort to help his two students.

"It is miraculous the way that the staff and the community have pulled together to go above and beyond for these kids," he said. "It's phenomenal."

After Shane's first bout with lymphoma, he became heavily involved in the annual Relay for Life fundraisers that support the American Cancer Society. Centennial Middle teacher Jeannie McDougall still thinks about the inspirational speech Shane gave March 23, less than two months before he learned his cancer had returned.

"His heartfelt words went well beyond his years," she said in a prepared statement. "He encouraged all of the survivors to fight through the storm and not crawl in a corner and let it win.

"He told them that this fight was not about waiting for the storm to pass but dancing in the rain."

 
Comments
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 1 hour ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lutz pedestrian dies in accident on U.S. 41

LUTZ — A man is dead after deputies said he walked into the path of a car on U.S. Route 41 Wednesday night.Charles Miller, 69 of Lutz, was walking east across the highway at 7:34 p.m., according to Florida Highway Patrol.Daniel Johnson, 35 and also o...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Police: Family hit on Dale Mabry Highway in stable condition

TAMPA — The mother and two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were all in stable condition by Thanksgiving morning, said Tampa police. Investigators said the family is not originally from the Ta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

TARPON SPRINGS — The city is considering a way to honor the legacy of the late longtime sponge merchant George Billiris at a city building. "We know how he promoted Tarpon Springs," Commissioner David Banther said at a recent City Commission meeting....
Published: 11/23/17
New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

WEEKI WACHEE — Mark Lee was looking for an accomplished coach to take over Weeki Wachee High’s boys basketball team. Not only did he find what he was searching for, but he may have gone above and beyond with the hiring of Rick Scruggs.The 30-year vet...
Published: 11/23/17
Bar review: Fashion and adult beverages at Bartique in St. Petersburg

Bar review: Fashion and adult beverages at Bartique in St. Petersburg

Like many people, I treat holiday shopping as a terrifying last-minute ordeal — a scramble to fill out gift lists with a number of items that, despite a complete lack of planning, will somehow seem thoughtful.You know what would make this whole thing...
Published: 11/23/17
Florida 10-year-old is one of 21 kids suing federal government over climate change

Florida 10-year-old is one of 21 kids suing federal government over climate change

At age 10, Levi Draheim hates math and loves reading Harry Potter books. He plays the violin but dislikes practicing. What he really enjoys is paddling a kayak or going swimming. It helps that he lives just a five-minute walk from the beach in the to...
Updated: 1 hour ago