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Gulfport Students Help Raise Money for Cancer Survivor

A handful of students at Gulfport Elementary channel their inner "Picasso" to help raise money for Third Grade Teacher Beth Myers, who was diagnosed with plasma cancer.

Art For a Cause

When a class of third grade students heard about Mrs. Beth Myers battle with plasma cancer, they put their minds together for the next big idea to help.

An art fundraiser was born and over the span of 4 to 6 weeks, a handful of students helped paint and decorate everything from picture frames, wooden trinkets, magnets and paintings. Third grade teacher Betsy Kinsely is organizing the project.

"The kids are excited. They love it," Kinsely said.

Kinsely says she and Myers have the same group of students, she teaches science and math and Myers teaches reading and writing. She says in all, about 20 students helped create art. Those who finished all of their homework during the week were invited to stay after school and paint and decorate as an extracurricular activity.

"They're having fun," Kinsely said.

Students crafted scenes with fish, hearts, trees and even snow in some of the paintings for sale.

Kinsely says she and a handful of students and parent volunteers will sell the artwork at the March 2 First Friday Art Walk to help pay for Myer's cancer treatments.

"This is a way the students can help Mrs. Myers," Kinsley said.

Thankful, Touched, Loved

"I was touched deeply, I love my students," Myers said.

43-year-old Beth Myers was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in October and has spent time away from the classroom for chemotherapy treatments at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy in Arkansas.

Myers is a third grade teacher at Gulfport Elementary, has been with the school for nearly five years and has lived in Gulfport with her husband and 10-year-old daughter the past eight years.

She says her family, extended family and students have been by her side throughout her diagnosis and treatments.

"They have been writing me cards and letters just about everyday," Myers said.

Myers says news of her students' art project helped her realize how much she's touched their lives.

Myers says in years past she's encouraged students to give back. They've helped raise money for Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International and the American Red Cross.

"It is weird that they're learning that lesson through me, but I have to deal with it," Myers said.

Although humbled by the help, Myers is grateful for the students' efforts. "The kids have been encouraging me. I was really happy and really touched."

Currently, Myers is home in Gulfport for a couple weeks, recuperating until she returns to Arkansas. She just completed her second round of chemotherapy and will soon undergo an extensive four-day "high dose" chemotherapy treatment before the first of two autologous stem cell transplants to begin at the end of March.

"Not all days are great. (But) I'm not quitting, I have too much to live for."

Despite the positive outlook, the financial burden is very real. Together, the two stem cell transplants are expected to cost around $600,000.

"I'm blessed that I have insurance, I am. Certainly, everything is not covered. We've got lots of co-pays and labs that are not covered. There's a lot of things that have to be paid out of pocket."

That's why every little bit helps, says Myers. And that's why Myers says she's truly blessed that her students are finding a way to help.

"I do have a lot to be thankful for," Myers said.

Depending on her health, Myers will try to stop by the Art Walk Friday night.

How You Can Help

Gulfport Elementary Teacher Betsy Kinsley will have a booth set up during Friday night's Art Walk from 6 - 10 p.m. on Beach Boulevard.

To learn more about Beth Myers and tax deductible donations for her treatments, check out the National Foundation for Transplants website.

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