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Poster Children

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"I've never had a student with a life-threatening disease like cancer," says Drudge, who's entering her 27th year of teaching. "It was just so amazing to me to imagine what she'd been going through for three years."

Madison, 6, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 2 1/2 years old. "It's a cancer of the blood," explains Madison's mother, Heidi. "So it's treated a lot longer than other children's types of cancers."

In January, Madison asked Drudge to join her for a remission checkup at the Medical College of Virginia's children's clinic. Drudge obliged and offered to do whatever Madison had to do, such as have her finger pricked for blood tests. (That offer was declined.) "Just walking through those steps with her was amazing," Drudge recalls.

Drudge was less impressed by the sight of the children's clinic. "It was just really depressing," she says. "There wasn't anything that reflected a children's environment."

Bassett adds, "It really did touch her that these little children had nothing to look at."

So a new class project was born: creating more child-friendly decorations for the MCV children's clinic. "We did an original watercolor collage of fish, entitled 'Fishy Business,'" Drudge says.

Parents of other children in the class jumped aboard, and three businesses helped underwrite the costs of producing 500 prints of the poster: law firm McCandlish Holton, advertising and marketing agency RightMinds, and Colonial Printing.

The class is selling the posters for $20 each in hopes of raising $10,000 to help build a better treatment area for children at MCV, which should open in the fall.

"They're really quite proud of the project," Drudge says of her kindergarten entrepreneurs. "And they know that their poster is going to raise money to help children who are sick."

Anyone interested in purchasing a 20-by-30-inch print can contact the Association for Support of Children with Cancer at (804) 828-1531. — David Clementson

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