South Sings to raise money for Sarah Crawley

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 7, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CHINA GROVE — Treatment for Sarah Crawley’s acute myeloid leukemia could top $1 million by the time she completes her fifth and final round in December.
The teenager’s health insurance will cover a considerable portion of those expenses, but what it doesn’t pay will have to be picked up by her parents, Teresa and Jim Crawley.
“It’s quite an expensive treatment,” Jim said. “Our insurance has been great so far, but it just changed over in July so we know we are going to have some big things we are going to have to pay out soon.”
That’s why students and staff at South Rowan High School are working together to raise money for the family.
The school’s honors chorus, nicknamed the Varsity Singers, will perform a benefit concert dubbed “South Sings for Sarah” at 4 p.m. Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Chuch in Landis.
Sarah, a sophomore at South, joined chorus her freshman year and it didn’t take long for the group to turn into family.
“When you first meet Sarah, you automatically fall in love with her personality, she is just such a nice and warm person,” chorus member Zach Clark said.
Although Sarah was diagnosed in August 2010 with myelodysoplasia, an abnormality of the myeloid cells of the bone marrow, the cells didn’t turn into leukemia until the end of April. She started her first round of treatments in May at Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
When school started back without Sarah, her chorus family started brainstorming ways to the help the Crawley family.
And chorus teacher Jane Gore said it didn’t take the students long to nail down a fundraiser.
“They said ‘We’ll do what we do best, we’ll sing for Sarah,’ ” she said.
Chorus member Tekia Jordan said she’s looking forward to the concert because she knows it will help the family.
“Sarah just deserves this,” she said. “She really loves music, so we thought this would be the best thing to do for her.”
The hour-long concert will consist of a dozen songs. A love offering will be collected during the performance with all money donated going to the Crawley family.
“It’s going to be very meaningful because she’s in chorus with us and she has a passion for music,” chorus member Lauren Johnson said.
Gore said her students opted to host the concert for Sarah before beginning their own fundraising efforts for the group’s trip to New York to sing in the National Youth Choir at Carnegie Hall.
“I’m so proud my students decided to put Sarah before themselves,” she said.
South Rowan will also host a Zumbathon called “South Shakes for Sarah” from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Trinity Lutheran Church. The cost to attend the event is $10.
Social studies teacher Audra Fincher and math teacher Ashley Lanning are combining their love of Zumba to raise money for the family.
“Some people can’t sing, and some people can’t shake, so both fundraisers give everyone a chance to get involved,” Lanning said.
Although Sarah is the driving force behind the fundraisers, the teachers said it’s just as much about her family.
Her younger sister, Laura, is a freshman at South and her sisters, Katelan and Lindsay Frye, are graduates.
Their mother, Teresa, is also a South Rowan grad and has taught English at the school for at least 15 years.
And their father, Jim, is a coach and teacher at China Grove Middle School.
“This is for people we all love,” Fincher said.
Lanning said different clubs through the school and local businesses have chipped in to help out with the event.
“As much as the whole family has done for this community we thought it would be good for us as a group to pay it forward,” she said.
Checking inwith Sarah
Sarah is currently undergoing her fourth round of treatments, but her friends and family say she’s still the fun-loving teenager she’s always been.
“Her spirits are high. We’re very encouraged right now,” said her father, Jim.
Chorus member Rusty Moore said Sarah is one of the most positive people he knows.
“She doesn’t let anything get her down,” he said.
Each round of treatments typically means a hospital stay of 28 to 35 days with about two weeks at home in between.
Teresa is on extended leave from South Rowan to be with Sarah at the hospital around the clock.
“They are both hoping to go back to school second semester,” Jim said.
Jim said although Sarah went into remission after her first treatment, she has to finish the full round before she can return to class.
He said right now the biggest threat Sarah faces is infection after the treatment wipes out her bone marrow cell counts.
That means visitors have to wear protective masks and gloves when they stop by.
Jim said Sarah’s prognosis is good and the family is grateful for the support they’ve received from the community.
Sarah said she hopes when she’s well again that she’ll be able to help others the way they’ve helped her.
“It feels amazing knowing that so many people care about me and will take their time to do something so special for me,” Sarah said. “I feel really blessed that God has given me such an awesome community of friends. I hope to beat this leukemia and be back with them very soon.”
Follow Sarah’s progress through by typing in sarahcrawley.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.