Tender Age of Giving: Students Donate to Polo on the Prairie

Middle School Students Help Raise Funds for UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

MD Anderson News Release 04/26/11

A new generation of philanthropists is emerging, and the students at Woodson School in Woodson, Texas, are on board. For the past 11 years, students from the school have taken a field trip to Polo on the Prairie, a U.S. Polo-sanctioned tournament in West Texas benefiting The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to personally present a check. These funds, along with the money raised for the event, go toward research and patient care programs at the institution.

In its 25 years of existence Polo on the Prairie has raised more than $3.6 million, including $304,055 already for this year's sold-out event. That number includes the thousands that have been contributed over the years on behalf of the Woodson School students.

Rhonda Thomas, a sixth-grade teacher at Woodson, has been bringing her classes to Polo on the Prairie for these11 years. Before arriving at the Lazy 3 Ranch in Albany, where the event is held each year, the students learn about MD Anderson, cancer and polo as part of their curriculum.

"We started coming out here after a student's grandfather was treated at MD Anderson," said Thomas. "Every year since, we've had someone in the class or community who is in some way affected by cancer and ultimately treated at MD Anderson. It really means a lot to the kids to be here."

The students raise money for their contribution in a number of ways, from collecting aluminum cans to soliciting monetary donations in the surrounding communities.

"The kids have a cotton trailer that they encourage people to place cans in all year long, and then they turn the cans in for money," said Cindy Parker, financial secretary for Woodson ISD. "It's one of the highlights of their year. You would think we were taking them to another country, that's how excited they are about going to Polo on the Prairie every year."

Her daughter, Maggie Parker, was among the group of sixth-graders who went to the event last year.

"We want to help MD Anderson find treatments for cancer, and my school is doing its part by raising money for Polo on the Prairie," said Maggie. 04/26/11