Skip to content

T.M Roberts students raise thousands for Crohn’s Disease education and research

Event supports eight-year-old Austin Vanderlind as he navigates life with Crohn’s
Grade two and three students from T.M Roberts Elementary School helped organize a fundraiser for Crohn’s disease that raised $4,292.60. Their classmate Austin Vanderlind (seated at the table with the blue shirt and black hat) suffers from Crohn’s and they took on the fundraiser to support him (Gillian Francis photo)

Students from T.M Roberts Elementary School have raised $4,292.60 in support of Crohn’s disease.

Grades two, three and six took part in a walk, fun fair and silent auction on June 1. Proceeds from the event were given to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Grade two and three held a pizza party on June 27 to celebrate this achievement.

“The school is absolutely amazing. They’ve really come together. I’ve seen a lot of leaders developing in this school, so hopefully they continue it when they go down to Parkland or Laurie,” said grade six teacher Fraser Paterson.

The event was organized in support of T.M Roberts student Austin Vanderlind, who suffers from Crohn’s. He led the walk and made a speech.

Crohn’s disease is a form of irritable bowel syndrome that leads to inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract including the mouth, esophagus, stomach and colon. It can lead to a variety of symptoms including dizziness, abdominal pain, fatigue, poor energy and nausea. There is no known cure for the disease, but therapy can reduce symptoms.

READ MORE: Cranbrook students cultivate agricultural lessons at pizza farm seeding event

Vanderlind, age eight, experiences frequent stomach aches and bouts of pain from intestinal ulcers. He regularly visits hospitals for blood tests and MRIs, and he receives infusions of medicine every few weeks for a few hours at a time.

Vanderlind’s teacher Tanya Meijer said the decision to hold a fundraiser started with a classroom discussion on kindness.

“We were talking about how we can improve people’s lives and acts of kindness. Our whole classroom is centred around social and emotional learning. From the beginning of the year, my kids are very in tune with their feelings and how to self-regulate. We noticed that Austin comes to school and is having a hard time,” she said.

The event was modeled after Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Gutsy Walk, which takes place in cities across the country. The school added a carnival component on to the fundraiser, which included face-painting, games, and prizes. Students watched as their favourite teachers were soaked in a dunk tank.

Grade six students took the lead on organization. They made flyers, advertised the event on the school news and collected money in the hallway.

They led younger students downtown to canvas businesses for donations. Paterson said they learned valuable public speaking skills and the importance of inclusion.

“A lot of kids came out of their shell,” he said.

Parents volunteered their time to make cakes, donate items for the silent auction and run the event stations.

Participants were charged a loonie to play some of the games.

“Kids were sharing their tickets and giving them away and it was really amazing. It was all positive and happy. It was a great day,” said Meijer.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Vanderlind finds that staying busy and active helps take his mind away from his symptoms. In his spare time he participates in lacrosse (photo courtesy of Tanya Meijer)
Madame Ingrid prepares for a drop into the dunk tank (photo courtesy of Tanya Meijer)