Area kids raise money to help OM team

From left, Hope LoDestro, Lucy LoDestro, Cole Krempa, Parker Klingbeil, Madison Kortz, Caroline Krempa, and Mollie Kortz worked all day Saturday to raise funds for Knox Junior High Odyssey of the Mind Energetic Engineers to go to OM world finals in Iowa later this month. (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Odyssey of the Mind program is blessed to have so many supporters. When the seventh grade Knox Junior High team — the Energetic Engineers — qualified to compete at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, they knew a great deal of fundraising was going to need to be done in a very short period of time. These students are the first Johnstown team to ever advance to this world competition, and with the honor comes a huge price tag.

Although there have been many adults and local businesses reaching out to financially help this team make their trip to Ames, Iowa later this month, the most touching story involves a special group of Johnstown elementary students. It all started with one Warren Street School sixth grader named Mollie Kortz.

Mollie has been on an Odyssey of the Mind team herself for the past three years. She and her team had also competed at the state finals in Binghamton, which was where the Energetic Engineers won their spot at the World Finals.

Shortly after returning from the state competition, Mollie decided she wanted to help the Knox Odyssey team. She recruited her fellow sixth grade friends and neighbors Cole and Caroline Krempa, Lucy LoDestro, and Parker Klingbeil.

Other helpers included kindergarteners Madison Kortz and Hope LoDestro, both students at Pleasant Avenue School.

The seven girls took turns working all Saturday selling goodies at their lemonade stand on Fourth Avenue. Many Facebook posts encouraged community members to stop by and support the cause. The girls offered delicious homemade cookies, lemonade, and even sold snow cones in the afternoon.

Over the years, Mollie has had many lemonade stands during Johnstown’s citywide garage sale to help those in need. Her parents report that until this year, the most she and her friends had ever made had been around $55.

Some of the lucky recipients in past years have included ALS, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and Baby Jax (a local boy needing medical treatment).

The girls’ hard work and cheerful service brought in about five times their usual profit, allowing them to donating $251.50 to the Knox World Finals Odyssey Team.

This act of kindness has touched many hearts and should be recognized. As a teacher at Warren Street School, I know that all students and staff have recently received T-shirts that read #kindnesscounts.

I think this is a perfect example of how these girls are living what they have learned at both home and school. Thank you to all seven girls for their outstanding compassion and for being positive role models for their peers.

Kristin Meashaw is the Johnstown Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator