CANA — St. Paul School upped its annual “Pennies for Patients” drive this year by rewarding students with a field day featuring an over-the-top “Gator-Brawl” wrestling match between School Resource Officer “Gator” King and fourth grade teacher Josh “EdShark” Edmonds.
According to spokesperson Dr. Donna Meyer, students raised more than $1,300 to better their initial goal of a grand. The funds, collected during a three-week period, benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. According to the society’s website, since 1994, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and other spare change by more than 10 million elementary, middle and high school students throughout the country.
“These kids can really scrounge,” said Meyer, who marked her first year with the event this year at St. Paul. “Some classes were told a good place to find spare change was in cars. They hustled and got car money. We also had some donations. They did really well. How they got behind this was terrific. Some even put (donation) boxes out in stores which I thought was very clever. The teachers really rallied around them.”
She said the sheer weight of the coins collected required another volunteer to transport them to a coin counting machine on two separate occasions, requiring more than one hour to put the money through the machines.
Meyer praised the support of teachers and said they did a tremendous job of keeping enthusiasm alive for the fund drive. She commended Edmonds’ efforts, which produced two videos on the “Maul at St. Paul” featuring EdShark facing off against Gator in an aquatic venue (an inflatable baby pool) dubbed “The Gator Hole.” The videos centered on a “Rocky” theme with EdShark working out while King, in true Ric Flair fashion, dwelt on his sure and certain victory. Israel Easter served as guest referee for the match.
Teacher Leesa Ayers’ class earned the honor of throwing water balloons at King and Edmonds as they made the long walk on a wet plastic tarpaulin to the Gator Hole filled with fresh, mountain water many degrees shy of lukewarm. The class collected $186. Other classes winning the Bronze Award were Talisha Lawson’s class with $180; Cathy Anderson’s class with $165; Steve Combs’ class with $108 and Rebecca Hill’s class with $100.
Guest referee Israel Easter got in the first two shots of the match as he physically explained the rules to Edmonds and King, making the definition of cheap shots clear to the participants. It was unclear if this was from previous history with the combatants or a knowledge he was at a disadvantage in water against a gator and a shark. Edmonds opened up the match with a variety of stalling tactics and misdirection reminiscent of wrestling legend, Ric Flair.
King didn’t suffer this for long and in true “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” fashion used the percussive properties of cold water as he slammed Edmonds to the mat, giving new meaning to the phrase “water tension.” He also punished Edmonds left arm, no doubt in preparation for a “coup de grace” in the final round.
Edmonds proved as tough skinned as his namesake, weathering Kings’ onslaught and was in the process of a rally when Physical Education teacher Jacob Adams burst onto the scene, banked a shot off of Kings’ noggin with what appeared to be a championship belt into Edmonds’ head, knocking him out of the ring and firmly placing Adams in the winner’s circle. King’s obvious pleasure at the outcome confirmed to many the victory was a part of his grand plan.
Students also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including a dunking booth featuring local educators for the field day celebration.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.