Five girls help classmate’s brother fight cancer five cents at a time

A nickel may not get you very much these days, but at Summit Elementary in La Crosse, five little girls are collecting as many as possible to help a fellow student’s brother with a rare form of cancer.

As summit elementary students line up outside waiting to begin a new school day, third grader Claire Pahl and her friends are stationed inside and waiting for the rush.

“Thank you,” said the girls. “You’re welcome ladies,” said a staff member.

Every morning for nearly the past two weeks, the collection table at the entrance of the school and the five ladies in lime behind the table, has been the first stop of the day for many Summit students, parents and staff.

“We’re collecting money for my brother who has Burkitt’s Lymphoma,” said Claire.

Nick was diagnosed with the rare and aggressive cancer in August.

For the past few months Nick has been in and out of hospitals undergoing treatment.

So Claire and her friends wanted to find a clever way to help — by wearing lime green, the color for Burkitt’s Lymphoma, and collecting nickels for Nick.


“Because ‘nickels’ has the word ‘nick’ in it, who is my brother,” said Claire.

Nickels, dimes, dollars and more have made their way into these collection jars.

Everyone who donates gets a lime green bracelet to show their support for Nick and his family.

“Summit’s been amazing,” said Dawn Pahl, Nick and Claire’s mother. “The kids and the staff supporting Claire and the girls, just the girls stepping up like that, we’re just very proud.”

And no one could be even more surprised of Claire’s “Nickels for Nick” campaign, than Nick himself.

“I was just kind of surprised because we’ve had kind of some feuds in the past, and we’ve kind of not gotten along, but her stepping up like this just kind of dumb founded me,” said Nick.

While there’s still a long road ahead for the Pahl family, it’s a good feeling knowing they can always lean on each other and the community for support.

“We’re extremely proud of Nicholas [and] extremely proud of Claire,” said Andy Pahl, Nick and Claire’s dad. “[It’s] Challenges that no child should have to go through, but I would say we know the fight is not over yet, but we feel really good about it.”

Friday was the last day for the collection.

Final totals aren’t in yet, the school says in the past two weeks the “Nickels for Nicolas” campaign was able to raise at least a couple hundred dollars that will go towards helping the family with medical bills and living expenses in this difficult time.

Nick just finished his fifth and hopefully last round of chemotherapy.

He’s not cancer free yet, but family and friends are hoping they’ll hear good things soon.