Remembering J.J. Lipski, Heritage raises $24,162 for St. Jude

Second-graders in Danielle Dixon's class were excited during the Math-a-Thon that raised $24,162 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. (CONTRIBUTED)
Second-graders in Danielle Dixon’s class were excited during the Math-a-Thon that raised $24,162 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (CONTRIBUTED)
J.J. Lipski, a former patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, was the catalyst for fundraising at Heritage Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED
J.J. Lipski, a former patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was the catalyst for fundraising at Heritage Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Heritage Elementary School’s population raised $24,162 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their fundraising remembered J.J. Lipski, a former patient at St. Jude.

J.J.’s parents are Jim and Diana Lipski. Diana works as bookkeeper at Heritage. J.J.’s younger siblings are brother Matthew and sister Nikki.

“Our St. Jude Math-a-Thon was a huge success,” Heritage Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson said. Seeing Heritage students enjoying math for a great cause was inspiring, she said.

Sixth-grade teacher Mrinal Joshi and second-grade teacher Ann Iott coordinated the Math-a-Thon in November. “Students worked on math problems and games, activities and centers all day long,” Joshi said.

“Heritage was encouraged to raise money for St. Jude in memory of Diana Lipski’s son, J.J. Lipski,” Joshi said. “We provided several incentives for our children to be fully encompassed in this phenomenal cause.”

J.J.’s illness started in early 2005 … “a quiet intruder, who came to steal,” Diana said. “First, it began to steal our four-year-old son’s voice … Then, it began to attack J.J.’s beautiful green eyes — his left eye started to turn in.” Eventually, J.J.’s body weakened.

“His grip was weak and arms sort of floppy. He started to fall down and stagger as he walked,” Diana said. By October, J.J.’s diagnosis was Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, “a tumor in the brainstem of our now five-year-old son — a form of pediatric cancer that has neither a known cause or cure,” Diana said.

For the next 15 months, the Lipskis heeded the neurosurgeon advice to “enjoy every moment.” After J.J.’s radiation was complete, the family traveled by train to Colorado and then vacationed at Disney World. J.J. finished kindergarten and played T-ball.

However, the tumor’s growth resumed. “At 6:01 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2007, J.J. left his earthly body and went Home,” Diana said.

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the Madison district will have raised $60,000 for St. Jude, director of student services Dennis James said.

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