HARTLEY—Cathy Jochims started the last weekend of October by getting covered in slime Friday, Oct. 25, but the principal at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Elementary in Hartley didn’t mind.
Students and staff members poured containers of slime onto Jochims as fulfillment of a fundraiser the school held in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise money for cancer research.
The amount raised was $1,661.52, which was enough to fill a fish tank that had been set up in the school’s gym for students to deposit donations.
The slime shower took place during an assembly that afternoon.
Physical education teacher Janet Prins introduced the “Put the Slime on Cancer” event, explaining that because the school had filled the tank at least half full of change, the principal would get the goo.
“At 8 this morning, there was an empty fish tank. It was empty. There wasn’t one little penny in it,” Prins said.
“By 10:30 a.m., the tank with just change — just change — was half full. And then we had people putting in cash and checks, and I think the tank is now full.”
The gym erupted in applause, which Prins let die down before explaining how the money would be donated to the June E. Nylen Cancer Center in Sioux City and American Cancer Society for cancer research.
She said that although more than a million people were diagnosed with cancer last year and 38 percent of men and women are diagnosed with the disease over their lifetimes, there is a glimmer of hope as well.
“Last year, statistics showed the overall cancer death rate declined and the number of survivors increased,” she said, earning another round of applause from those gathered.
Prins then called down the students and staff who would do the honors of sliming Jochims: fourth-graders Hayden Dolphin, James Carlin and Lexi Schmillen, followed by kindergarten teacher Julie Swenson, fourth-grade teacher Kayla Dagit and third-grade teacher Kathy Habben.
Jochims put on safety goggles and settled into a chair placed inside a small, inflatable pool on the gym floor as the audience chanted “Slime her! Slime her! Slime her!”
After a five-second countdown, the students then unloaded their gooey arsenal.
The audience repeated the chant and countdown ritual before the three teachers let pour their own containers of slime onto Jochims. Following the second dose of sludge, Jochims wiped off her face and raised her arms in triumph in front of the crowd.
“I’m always in favor of doing something that helps the kids be motivated and excited, and when it’s for something that’s a great cause like helping people with cancer,” Jochims said.
In previous challenges the school has held for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jochims has been put in other sticky situations. Previous challenges have resulted in Jochims kissing a pig, spending a day on the school’s roof, being put in a “jail” at the school, eating a pie without using her hands and dyeing her hair blue.
“I really need to share my appreciation for Janet Prins because she heads this whole thing. I don’t do anything other than sit there in whatever the event is,” Jochims said of the annual cancer challenge.
After Jochims’ sliming was complete, Prins guided the students and staff outside for the second part of the cancer awareness event: a balloon launch dedicated to current and former Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Elementary teachers who had cancer.
Staff members first released a round of balloons recognizing staffers still alive who overcame their fight with cancer: Amy Arrick, Vella Smith, Diane Rossman and Julie Swenson.
The next round of balloons that staff members let go was in honor of school staff members who died from cancer: Lorene Unrau, Lois Eckard and Vonnie Hofmann.
Students released the final grouping of balloons, which were to honor all people who are fighting cancer. Prins said the students who let go of the balloons had been chosen to do so because they all knew people who have had cancer.
This was the school’s sixth year holding the cancer event, which usually raises $1,300-$1,800.
“It’s always a pretty good chunk of change,” Jochims said.