Southmoreland helps first grade girl battling cancer

On Aug. 11 , Southmoreland Primary Center first grader Khloe Etling and her family learned that she had a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Ever since then, the Southmoreland community has come together to support this little girl and her family through this difficult time.

Southmoreland SPC/SES PE teacher Mr. Jason Bandemer started a program to raise money for students in the area who are struggling called “The Mustache Club.”

“I started (The Mustache Club) when I was teaching at Connellsville as a way to give back to local families that are experiencing some sort of extreme difficulty,” said Mr. Bandemer, “I wanted kids to learn the importance of being kind and taking care of each other especially those closest to us.”

Mr. Bandemer and his wife Briana, who has a similar club at Connellsville, have been raising money with the club for four years. They have raised over $20,000 for all the families that they have been supporting.

“I have had a ton of help from people in everything building this up,” said Mr. Bandemer. “None of this could be possible without the amazing students, families, and staff we have at Southmoreland.”

Etling’’s mother Amber is very grateful and thankful for the whole community’s support for them during this difficult time.

“It’s been so amazing to see our little town come together to love and support our family during this time,” said Etling. “I could have never imagined the outpouring of love that we have received.”

Ewing’s Sarcoma is a rare tumor that develops in the bones and tissues that mainly affects children and teens, yet has a high cure rate if the tumor hasn’t spread.

“We are truly blessed to be part of such a close knit community,” said Etling. “It has truly made this new normal a lot easier as we focus on helping Etling toward becoming cancer free.”

High School English teacher Mrs. Jenna Hixson is also helping raise money for the Etlings.

“Not only am I am happy to be a part of something that will help Khloe and her family,” said Mrs. Hixson, “I know that some day she will remember this support and want to do it for someone else in need when she is all grown up and cancer free.”

Mrs. Hixson had recently battled cancer herself.

“The only thing that could scare me more than getting cancer is any loved one getting cancer,” said Mrs. Hixson. “Fighting your own battle is doable, but watching the ones you love suffer is a whole other challenge.”

Southmoreland will be using the Mustache Club all year to raise money for the Etlings.

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