West Hartford Public Schools students, teachers, and administrators donated money to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and were allowed to wear their pajamas for a day in return.
By Ronni Newton
Students and teachers from all the public schools in West Hartford spent a school day in their pajamas – and it was not a day for distance learning.
On Friday, December 10, the entire district (with the exception of Conard High School where the event was postponed for a week due to another previously scheduled fundraiser that day) participated in PJ Day for the Kids, an annual fundraiser for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center traditionally held. on the second Friday in December.
Hall math teacher Laura Nichols, whose son was given a room on the Connecticut Children’s oncology floor when he had surgery years ago, worked five years ago to expand the PJ Day fundraiser to all public schools in West Hartford as a way to to focus on doing something positive and giving back. Rylie Dagnall, a childhood cancer survivor who graduated from Hall last June, had hosted West Hartford’s first PJ Day fundraiser I’m 2014 while a student at King Philip Middle School, and worked with Nichols on the event during her high school days.
Statewide, PJ Day for the Kids is now in its 11th year. The fundraiser was originally started by Nick Wesoloskie of Coventry, CT, who as a sophomore decided to do something for children like his little sister, Charlotte, who battled cancer and is now cancer-free.
“He wanted to honor survivors, those who are lost and those who are still fighting for days, weeks or more in the battle of their lives — in their pajamas,” Nichols said. “From the humble beginnings of a Coventry school that raised $500 to a state-recognized day of awareness of more than $1.4 million in 10 years, PJ Day spreads hope among children and families and inspires participants across the state. . The incredible amount of funding PJDay provides year after year has changed the landscape of cancer care and outcomes at Connecticut Children’s. At nearly half a million dollars a year — and growing — Connecticut Children’s is able to invest in the research and care that is driving real change for children battling cancer today and tomorrow.”
This year’s goal was to raise $500,000 statewide.
The 2021 fundraiser results aren’t finalized yet, but by this year, West Hartford Public Schools had raised a total of $67,000 since 2014. Last year, the district raised $23,000.
“West Hartford Public Schools’ efforts have made us the best school district in terms of fundraising for the event over the past two years,” Nichols said.
Anyone who wants to wear their pajamas to school on PJ Day will pay $1 or more for the privilege, but there are other fundraisers who support the effort as well. “In addition to what we raised on Friday, we raised money at the Hall vs. Conard (and split it 50/50), two fundraising events held at restaurants (Chipotle & Harry’s Bishops Corner) and our business club, DECA, donated $5 for every pair of PJ pants they sold last week,” said Amy Shaffer, coordinator student activities and career center at Hall High School.
Nichols said she is excited not only about the money raised, but also about the increased level of participation this year. “Schools and families are now looking forward to this annual event and the participation of students and staff has been excellent. This increased participation is raising awareness and humanitarianism among our student population, which I believe is just as important as the actual fundraising.”
She expressed her gratitude to the building coordinators, who are organizing the event at each school, for their key role in its overall success.
Donations can still be made to the West Hartford Public Schools team through this link: PJDay for the Kids – WHPS Team Donation Page and by scanning the QR code below.
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