Eighth-graders classmates rally around him by launching fundraiser

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Skyler LaMotte, Mariah Fields and Christian Fields of Banks Junior High School handle a fundraising booth at lunchtime. Money will aid classmate Joe White, who remains at a Portland rehab center after suffering a stroke.Classmates of ailing Banks teenager Joe White are intent on bringing him joy.

Since Joe, 14, suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery Jan. 21 at a Portland hospital, his friends have looked for ways to show him they care. They’ve posted encouraging notes on a Facebook page, “Stay Brave Joe White,” dedicated to their pal. Their parents have called Joe’s parents to relay caring expressions.

Last week, the students took their campaign to buoy Joe’s spirits up a notch, said Principal Shelley Mitchell of Banks Junior High School, where Joe is an eighth-grader.

“We have some other really special things going on here. Students are doing a fundraiser for Joe and really working to reach out to him,” Mitchell said. “This is a really special family.”

Several of Joe White’s peers, including Mariah Field — who has known Joe since they were in first grade together — have mounted a fundraising and encouragement campaign called “Joy for Joe.” They’ve set out jars in every classroom at BJHS and Banks Elementary School so pupils, parents and teachers can drop in their loose change.

The students’ goal is to raise up to $3,000 to purchase an iPad for Joe to help him pass the time while undergoing physical therapy for speech and mobility issues at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center’s Randall Children’s Hospital.

Fundraising started Feb. 3 and has no end date, said Mariah.

“We have over $300 already,” she reported Saturday. “We’ve made a few posters to put around in the school hallways explaining why we’re raising the money.”

In addition to the iPad, funds will go to purchase an iTunes gift card and the rest will be donated to Joe’s family to help defray medical bills.

For Mariah, there’s no doubt Joe will overcome his current challenges.

“Joe is one of my best friends — I have four or five classes with him,” she said. “He has an amazing sense of humor. Laughing and smiling in the hospital with his family is what’s getting Joe through.”

When they’ve reached their fundraising goal and have the iPad and gift card in hand, Mariah said, she and other students will gather up dozens of get-well cards and ask Joe’s parents to take them to him.

Jeanne and Dave White have been visiting Joe daily at Randall Children’s Hospital while he recovers from the effects of an arterio-venous malformation (AVM), an abnormal collection of blood vessels in the brain.

Joe’s sister Emma is a sixth-grader at Banks Elementary School.

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