Brubaker Elementary Students Wear Bow Ties of Support

Jonathan Dooley, 9, a 3rd grader at Brubaker Elementary School, is battling cancer.

Jonathan Dooley, 9, a 3rd grader at Brubaker Elementary School, is battling cancer.

When Jonathan Dooley walks into a room, eyes light up. The 9-year-old was clearly the star of Brubaker Elementary today. Dozens of kids said hello as students filled the auditorium. The surgical mask on Jonathan’s face moved in a way that you knew he was smiling back. Jonathan’s mask protects him from germs while he undergoes cancer treatments.

“When I go to the doctor, they put a big needle right here,” he explained, pointing to his chest. “And sometimes, I have to go to the hospital.”

When he feels well enough, Jonathan is at school. And today, every student in the nearly-packed auditorium and many of the teachers are wearing t-shirts with a bow tie screen-printed near the neckline. It’s #BowtieTuesday, the day students set aside to present a check to Kids Living Brave, an organization that supports kids like Jonathan. The students and staff raised more than $500 in Jonathan’s honor.

“Jonathan is the definition of brave,” Dean Eric Van Dorin said proudly.

The idea for #BowtieTuesday came from students giving Van Dorin a hard time for wearing bow ties to work. Van Dorin thought having a day when students could wear bow ties to school might be good way to have fun while they were all cooped up inside because of the cold.

When students and staff began requesting bow tie t-shirts, something made Van Dorin think of the little guy with glasses who came walking into the office on the first day of school.

“He walked right up to me and said, ‘Who are you?’” Van Dorin remembers. “Then he took my hand and offered to show me around. He’s that kind of kid.”

T-shirt sales turned into a fundraiser for Kids Living Brave, an organization started by Jack Cooper and his wife in November of 2011 after their young son Carson was diagnosed with Leukemia. They provide “brave baskets” to families with newly diagnosed children.

The baskets include $300-400 of items Cooper said parents don’t know they need until they need them, including a medical journal for documenting medications, “of which there are many.”

“One of the mothers of a newly diagnosed child gave us the best complement,” Cooper said. “She said, ‘This is the most practical thing that anyone has ever given us.’ ”

What everyone gave Jonathan today was attention and love, which he soaked up with hugs and smiles.

Jonathan shows off his own bow tie, green with sequins, before walking up the steps onto the stage. When he’s handed the mic, he says hello to his teachers one-by-one. A few times during the check presentation, he spotted someone he missed and took the mic back to say more hellos.

As excited as he was about the event and the media cameras, when he sat down in front of the camera light, he was shy. Until one of the reporters admitted she hadn’t seen The Lego Movie.

“You haven’t?? I would be Wyldstyle,” Jonathan said, explaining how she runs, fights and flips her bike, and then flips it again. Pretty brave, indeed.

Video of Brubaker’s #BowtieTuesday

Photos of Brubaker’s #BowtieTuesday

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