5th grader works at making difference for kids with cancer

Published 12:18 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ever noticed how quickly a coin jar can fill up? Ella Kate Nichols, a fifth grade student at Straughn Elementary School, has, and she is using that phenomenon to raise money for kids fighting cancer.

In fact, just this week Nichols finished collecting money for the first 4 Quarters 4 Research Coin Drive at her school, which raised nearly $1,500 for the cause.


Ella Kate’s mom, Amy, says her daughter has a soft heart and has been around cancer for most of her life, which might explain why she decided to do something about the disease.

“When she was in kindergarten, there was a student battling cancer,” Amy said. “So, she’s been around children fighting this battle for a long time.”

Several years ago, Amy said a chance meeting in Orlando, Fla. introduced her daughter to another young cancer patient and gave her the motivation to begin her own benefit drive.

“She met Tori Svenson, a little girl fighting a type of cancer that is a tumor on her brain stem,” Amy said. “That’s how she got involved with Rally (cancer foundation).”

Ella Kate said she just saw an opportunity to help.

“Me and Tori started talking and she was involved in Rally,” she said. “We started getting deeper and deeper into the Rally stuff, and I thought it would be a great thing to do to raise money for it.”

Ella Kate said, not only did she want to help kids fighting cancer, but she hopes the money will go toward improving the medicines that are used in their treatments.

“Some of the medicine they use is over 20 years old,” Ella Kate said, adding that 93 cents of ever dollar donated to Rally goes directly to help fight childhood cancer.

Amy said her daughter recently met another local cancer patient, four-year-old Cooper Sasser. She said Sasser is from Andalusia and is a leukemia survivor, and it seems that with with each new friend she makes, Ella Kate’s resolve to help is strengthened.

And it must be rubbing off on her classmates at Straughn.

“The coin drive included grades three through five and raised a total of $1,450.45,” Amy said. “The homeroom that raised the most money was Mrs. Kodadek’s third grade class, bringing in $601.19.”

With her first benefit a success, Ella Kate already has her sights set on her next event – and it’s a big one.

“She’s going to be singing the National Anthem at an Atlanta Braves game July 25, and we are selling tickets to the game,” Amy said, adding the proceeds will also go to the Rally foundation, which is based in Atlanta.

Ella Kate said she has already sold nearly half of her tickets, but still has both general admission ($10) and outfield ($29) tickets for sale.

Amy said, while she is proud of her daughter, she isn’t surprised by what can be accomplished when one person genuinely cares.

“You would be amazed what this little community can do,” she said. “When a child is sick, and there are several that have been fighting lately, it’s almost like it’s all of our kids.”

Amy said there is, however, much still to be done.

“There’s more to do,” she said. “Like Tori, she’s completely cancer free now, but she has problems that she will have to deal with for the rest of her life because of the treatments, because they are made for adults. That medicine is just not made for little kids.”

To purchase a ticket or find out other ways you can donate to cancer research, Amy Nichols can be reached at 334.208.6422 or via Facebook.

Ella Kate is also the daughter of Todd Nichols.