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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • $1,599 raised for Jefferson Elem. classmate

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  • Large signs expressing love and prayers decorated the hallways of Jefferson Elementary Wednesday as students donned pajamas in honor of Braiden Lee.
    Lee is a fifth-grader in Lori Hoke's class and has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma Stage IV.
    "He's a good friend. I play with him at the park. He's friendly to everybody," Mikel Roberts said.
    Pajama Day led to a total of $1,599.25 donated to Lee and his family to help with medical bills.
    When the Jefferson staff began collecting money to help the family pay medical bills, the students found out and began bringing their own change. The action prompted the staff to find ways for the students to help raise funds.
    "It means help and money for Braiden. It makes me feel good," Kennedy Barnett said.
    Paraprofessional Bernice Mosley organized Wednesday's event, securing donations so every student could wear pajamas, regardless if they could bring $1 or not. Donations surpassed expectations, as Mosely thought she would raise about $250, enough money to equal $1 for each student in the school.
    "It's aid for the family," Mosley said. "I was glad to acquire donations that were more than enough."
    In addition to Oklahoma, donations came from Kansas, Missouri and Georgia.
    "It's really a miracle," said Herbert Markel, Lee's grandfather. "Braiden loves the kids and loves the support they are giving him."
    Pajama Day is only the first of the fundraisers the school is planning. They will have a Dance-A-Thon on March 28.
    Monday was Lee's 11th birthday, and he began treatment at University of Oklahoma Children's Hospital.
    "We miss him a lot," Lela Tadlock said.
    His classmates celebrated his birthday over the weekend before he went to Oklahoma City.
    "Braiden is awesome, and he's a really good friend," Tyrn Williams said.
    When Lee returns to school, his classmates and classroom are ready, as a bed has been moved into Hoke's room so Lee can rest when needed.
    "He rests when he gets tired. It's how we keep him in school," Hoke said.
    Lee's classmates are ready for his return and shared what they would say to him if they could.
    "We really miss you, and when you come back, give us a hug," Taujeeai Roberts said.
    "I want him to know he's not alone and I'm praying for him," Destiny Wickware said.

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