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Miracle Makers: Martha Brown Middle School

Outstanding Commitment by a Community Group

Walk-a-thon at Martha Brown Middle School.One simple phrase has been the driving force behind a massively successful endeavor students at Martha Brown Middle School have taken on to help their peers: Kids helping kids.

This spring, Martha Brown Middle School will celebrate its 30th year of holding fundraising events for children’s hospitals and its fifth year giving to Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center. David Dunn, principal of Martha Brown Middle School, is a strong advocate for the fundraising events.

“Anytime you do community service, you’re modeling giving back,” said Dunn. “This is something the school and community can embrace…Golisano Children’s Hospital affects everyone in some form – family, neighbors, friends – everyone has been touched.”

The event started as a math-a-thon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. The math-a-thon, which encouraged students to ask for sponsors to do math problems, began taking off in 1997, when students started raising between $16,000 and $20,000 a year.

Five years ago, teachers and students decided to throw their support behind Golisano Children’s Hospital, since many students had received care there and wanted to give back to the place that was helping so many children in their community. The group worked with Karen Eisenberg, associate director of Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Office of Advancement, to tailor the fundraising event to work locally.

“Students and staff at Martha Brown Middle School have been fantastic to work with,” said Eisenberg. “We love seeing the students take on leadership roles and really embrace the phrase, ‘Kids helping kids,’ when they rally around their friends who have been treated here.”

The event has taken many forms over the past four years to keep it interesting for the students, from a math-a-thon to a dance-a-thon to its most recent iteration, a walk-a-thon. The event has moved from a quiet, studious activity to an outdoor event that encourages students to walk in teams and wear group-themed costumes.

The school starts promoting the event about a month ahead of time with morning announcements, fun promotional music and an assembly to introduce and incite sixth graders to get involved. Maura Kerkezis, a health teacher at Martha Brown, and Maureen Aguglia, a math teacher at the school, show a video that includes footage in the hospital and students participating in past events. Kerkezis and her colleagues show the video to all seventh and eighth graders during their health periods.

“We tell students we want them to help raise money for other kids because it feels good and they’re making a difference in a lot of lives,” said Aguglia.

Students certainly hear their teachers’ message loud and clear. The event has raised nearly $79,000 for Golisano Children’s Hospital in just four years.

“Martha Brown rocks,” said Bob Jacobson, Golisano Children’s Hospital board member. “The leadership and initiatives of the principal and teachers manifests itself in an uplifting school spirit that you can feel. They are a joy to work with and their fund raising results for a middle school are unbelievable. They have many fundraisers during the year but their enthusiasm never wanes.”

Students and faculty at Martha Brown Middle School have demonstrated that with a little creativity and a lot of spirit, we all have the power to make this world a better place. This year’s fundraising walk will take place Saturday, June 5. To find out more about how to sponsor students participating in the walk, please email or