Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Concert and dinner to benefit Lithia elementary school teachers battling cancer

LITHIA — When they learned last year that three teachers from Lithia elementary schools were battling cancer, their fellow teachers wanted to find some way to help.

"When something affects one of us, it affects all of us," said Maria Peregolise, who teaches second grade at FishHawk Creek Elementary School.

It started with about 15 teachers brainstorming ideas in a classroom. With the help of volunteers, businesses and other community members, it's turned into the Raizing Hope benefit concert and dinner Saturday at the Palmetto Club, featuring band Raizing Cain.

Proceeds will benefit the three teachers, second-grade teacher Jane Farkas and media specialist Debbie Crawford of FishHawk Creek, and second-grade teacher Jackie Waluzak from Bevis Elementary School.

"This community is coming out in full force," Peregolise said.

Ken Jones, of the band Raizing Cain, got involved initially because Farkas had been one of his daughter's favorite teachers in elementary school. Jones put the other teachers in touch with Kelly Rowjohn, Friends of FishHawk founder, to help a local family that lost their home just before Christmas.

Since then, Friends of FishHawk has helped others in the community by taking meals to people who have had surgery, or lining the streets to welcome soldiers returning home. They've collected donations for Mary & Martha House and A Kid's Place, and raised money to buy feed for a starving horse.

"Everything that comes up, there is a tremendous amount of support," Rowjohn said. "Anything they can do."

The support the teachers have found has been overwhelming, said Waluzak, who has been receiving chemotherapy treatments for colorectal cancer.

Even before the planning for Saturday's event began, friends, parents, former and current students, and others in the community have helped by bringing Waluzak meals when she has been too tired to cook after chemotherapy, or by bringing cards or other little gifts to lift her spirits. Her sister, niece and her husband's family will support her at the concert.

"It's really helped me stay strong and positive through this whole thing," she said. "Some of the worst days when I've felt awful, having a little surprise made my day. It made me feel so much better, knowing all the people supporting me."

The teachers' struggles have hit home for many — like Jones, who lost his mother to cancer.

"It was a horrible experience," he said. "It's great when people do everything they can to try and help."

When Peregolise learned what her friends and colleagues were going through, one of her first reactions was anger and a feeling of injustice. After all, she said, they are good people who bring good things to the community.

"How can this be the effect?" she wondered. "But I've realized the effect is not the cancer. The effect is how all these people come out of the woodwork to help."

Keeley Sheehan can be reached at [email protected]

. If you go

Benefit concert and dinner

The Raizing Hope benefit concert and dinner is from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Palmetto Club, 17004 Dorman Road, Lithia.

The event includes a silent auction, raffle, draw down, cash bar and entertainment.

Cocktail attire, adults only.

Tickets are $25 and on sale at What's In Store, 16727 FishHawk Blvd., in the Sweetbay Plaza.

For information or to make a donation, contact Kelly Rowjohn at [email protected] or (813) 655-9985.

Concert and dinner to benefit Lithia elementary school teachers battling cancer 01/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  2. Hudson man, 19, killed by hit-and-run driver while walking in street, FHP says


    A 19-year-old Hudson man walking in the street Friday night was struck and killed by a pickup truck that fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Road Ranger hurt after truck catches fire in crash at I-275, Busch


    TAMPA — A Road Ranger was seriously injured when a drunk driver ran into the back of his truck on Interstate 275 and both vehicles burst into flame, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

    Brian Nelson Barrett, 42, of Wimauma, was headed north on I-275 in his Road Ranger truck Saturday morning 10/21/17 when a car hit him from behind, causing both vehicles to erupt in flames.
  4. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight



  5. Trump to allow the release of JFK assassination records


    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he doesn't plan to block the scheduled release of thousands of never publicly seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

    FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas. Riding with Kennedy are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.  President Donald Trump, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017,  says he plans to release thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File) NY107