GREAT FALL – Once a month, Lincoln Elementary School students propose ideas for a service project to school administration, who decide that month’s project.
May’s project was proposed by 6th graders Shelby Cotnoir and Vail Von Voast. Their idea was to raise money and awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is a disease that affects the motor cells in the spine.
SMA makes it difficult for those diagnosed to perform everyday, basic life functions like breathing and swallowing.
However, it does not affect a person’s ability to think, learn or build relationships.
Shelby and Vail decided to raise money for this particular disease because their friend and fellow classmate, Jacey, has SMA.
Vail said, “If you got to know Jacey, she is the sweetest girl.”
Jacey is a second grader at Lincoln Elementary who goes to school year round. Jacey’s mother, Melissa Kloiber, said, “We always try to keep her on-level with every other kid.”
“She is mainstreamed into our classroom,” said Lincoln Elementary Principal Jon Konen. “She is, I think, one of the only students in the nation with her severity of SMA that is doing that.”
Jacey and Vail decided to sell wristbands during lunches for their project.
Shelby said, “They’re yellow because yellow is her favorite color. It says, ‘Jacey’s friends’ and it says, ‘SMA support,’ so basically it’s just a way for the whole school to get involved.”
The girls are not only raising money for SMA, but also awareness.
“More people need to know about this disease,” said Melissa Kloiber. “More people need to know to have their child tested, so they can have amazing lives like we have.”
Along with the money raised from the bracelet sales, the School Administrators of Montana also donated a $1,000 check to Jacey.
Jacey and her family are donating the money raised to the website, Jadon’s Hope, which helps support families with SMA.