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‘Prom’ raises $5,000 for Carmen

SUQUAMISH — Third-grader Jessica Patterson’s reason for having her head shaved — donating her hair to Locks of Love — was simple: She wanted to support fellow third-grader Carmen Garringer.

“I wanted to do it for her. We’re friends,” she said.

Jessica, 8, attends Suquamish Elementary School. She was one of more than 250 who attended Carmen’s Prom April 13.

Carmen, 9, began chemotherapy Jan. 16 for extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer among children.

The prom raised about $5,000 for the Caring for Carmen Foundation, which is raising money to defray the costs of Carmen’s treatment. The Suquamish Tribal Council pledged to match funds raised at the prom, up to $5,000. The council’s next meeting is April 22.

The prom was organized by Chief Kitsap Academy juniors Jazmine Ortiz and Crystal Purcell. They wanted to show Carmen and her family that the community supports them, Purcell said.

Ortiz, a Chief Seattle Days pageant princess, wanted Carmen to feel like a princess, too. Though she and Purcell had never met Carmen, they wanted to host a fundraiser and Ortiz was surprised by the number of people who attended.

“We didn’t expect this many people,” Ortiz said during the prom, after donating her hair to Lock of Love.

The event featured music and dancing, a spaghetti feed, and silent and live auctions. More than 20 people donated to Locks of Love, including 16 people that had their heads shaved.

Toby Lemond was the DJ for the event. Local rapper Michael Wansley — aka Wanz — attended the event, talking with and having his photo taken with fans. He sang “Thrift Shop,” a song by Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; Wanz is featured in the music video.

The fundraising goal for the foundation is $500,000. More than $40,000 has been raised so far. The money raised also helps the family financially. Carmen’s mother, Jaci, doesn’t work so she can take care of her daughter.

The prom followed a spaghetti feed fundraiser at Campana’s Italian Restaurant in Poulsbo. The amount of money raised at that event was not available Wednesday.

Foundation organizer Leslie Burns “still gets chills” thinking about the support the family received at the April 13 prom.

The prom was the first fundraising event both Carmen and Jaci could attend, Burns said. Though Carmen was shy at times, Burns said overall she was “very excited.”

“She was very happy to see her friends, and happy to dress up,” Burns said.

Typically, Carmen is wearing yoga pants and tennis shoes, or a similar outfit. She goes back and forth between home and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“She was happy to meet Wanz and happy to see an event for herself,” Burns continued. “Grateful is the word I would use.”

Carmen is expected to undergo about six more months of treatment. Recent diagnosis shows a change for the best in her treatment.

Upcoming fundraising events:
— Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., a bake sale at Borrowed Kitchen Bakery, 10811 NE Highway 104, Suite 101, Kingston. All proceeds will be donated to Caring for Carmen.

— April 28, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., an Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s, 3138 NW Randall Way, Silverdale.

For more information about fundraising events, go to www.caringforcarmen.com or visit the Caring For Carmen Facebook page.

“Our goal is to stay positive,” Burns said. “So many things can get you down; if you let that happen, they will. We just keep smiling and moving forward and pray for the best.”

 

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