Charisma's Big Give

Mrs. Ivy, a Cushing Elementary teacher gets the attention of her 5th grade class. " Charisma is going to talk to us today about her upcoming arthritis fundraiser. So you all need to be good listeners. " Charisma Lewis lives up to her given name as she approaches the front of the class to talk about her work toward a good cause. Quietly she says,  " Well, March 29 I am doing a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation."

The fifth grader was diagnosed at age five with rheumatoid arthritis. On bad days she's wheelchair bound, but her friends help out. Parent, Barbie Tucker notes,  " They take care of her. They protect her and they don't let anybody mess with her. "

Charisma takes full advantage of her good days to prepare for the big event. It's called Charisma's Big Give. Ophra has been informed. "I e-mailed her to let her know what we're doing. We are going to send her a video of the event. I think she would feel proud and excited, "  said Charisma.

Charisma has recruited her classmates to help. Just like on Oprah's show, teams are in competition to raise the most money. Charisma's mom, Neva Lewis,  is the cheerleader.   She tells the youngsters,  " You've got to get some support and if you don't raise a whole bunch of money you'll get a pie in your face. "  One little boy exclaims, "Awesome."

It's all the incentive the small town with the big heart needs. A brainstorming session leads to some good fundraising ideas. One girl suggested,  " A fun game of tug of war." Another enterprising young man said,  " I'm going to have a garage sale." A poised young girl said, " Since I get my own allowance, I'll probably donate it. " A group of slightly rowdy boys said quickly, " We are going to ask our parents."

The March 29th event is falling into place, but someone is missing. Charisma said,  " The only thing I wish there could be is my father. He's in Afghanistan right now helping the military. I miss him very much." In his absence Charisma will carry on. She's got the whole town behind her.

Cans are placed around town by each team. Anyone can drop money in to encourage the teams on. Donations can be mailed by contacting Neva Lewis at 936-326-4215 or 936-652-2036. Charisma's Big Give is March 29th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Cushing High School gym. Admission is $2. Brad Mahl, former TV star of General Hospital, Harlon Brooks, James Dawson, James Kerrs, SFA Sigma Chi Fraternity and Carlton Ballow will serve as referees.