Region 16 students hold read-a-thon to help Prospect girl
PROSPECT — The community that reads together, helps one of its own together.
On June 12, 10-year-old Brianna Pereira, who is now in the fourth grade at Community School, was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rare brain tumor. Doctors removed the tumor from the right side of her brain 12 days later, and she’s been going through cycles of treatment since in an effort to make sure the cancerous cells don’t spread to her spine.
Last Friday afternoon, Brianna was at Boston Children’s Hospital preparing for her third stage of chemotherapy treatment, as her classmates at Community School gathered for an assembly in the gym before school let out for the holiday break. Although Brianna wasn’t at the assembly, she certainly was on the mind of everyone in the gym.
The assembly was the culmination of a Region 16’s Read-A-Thon for Brianna, which raised money for Brianna and her family.
The read-a-thon was organized by Community School psychologist Laura Naylor, and University of New Haven student Britany Sweet, an intern at the school.
“This is really what this time of year is all about. And, coming together as a school to help one of our own was really the goal we drove home,” Naylor said.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the district, which covers schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, sought people to sponsor them for reading early this month. Then the week of Dec. 9 the students got to reading.
“Monday through Friday the goal was read, read, read,” Naylor said.
No one other than Naylor and Sweet knew exactly how much money had been raised heading into the assembly. After recognizing the students and classes that raised the most money and read the most, and a short video for Brianna, the moment of truth had arrived.
Naylor announced the read-a-thon had raised $2,533.44 and the children let out a cheer. It wouldn’t be the loudest cheer of the afternoon though.
With a smirk on her face, Naylor told the students she may be playing a trick on them and announced how much money was really raised — $22,533.44.
“This is all because of you,” Naylor told the students as they shouted and applauded. “This is something you did.”
Of the total raised, 95 percent, $21,406.77 will go to the family, and the remaining 5 percent, $1,126.67 will be donated to the Boston Children’s Hospital.
Brianna’s mother Misty Pereira said she would have been thrilled with the $2,533.44 and was amazed at the actual total.
“I just want to thank each and every one of you,” said Misty Pereira standing before the students. “Brianna loves you guys so much and misses you, and this is unbelievable.”
Brianna’s father Victor Pereira said what the students did was incredible.
“It’s more than I would ever imagine. It’s incredible,” he said.
Sweet was the one responsible with tallying the totals daily leading up to the assembly. Each day she would tell Naylor the new amount and she said they would be moved nearly to tears.
“We’d be shocked, almost to tears because it’s amazing. We didn’t expect it to be this month,” Sweet said.
Jeff Haddad, assistant principal of Community and Algonquin schools, said the read-a-thon did two things — got the students reading and helped out a classmate in a big way.
“It goes to show that if one person does a little something, when every person does that it amounts to big, big things,” he said.
Brianna will go through one more session of chemotherapy after next month. Then doctors will continue scans to monitor her progress.
Misty Pereira said Brianna is going to “freak out” when she finds out how much money her peers raised.
“I think she knows everyone here is behind her,” Victor Pereira said.