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Every penny counts

Lori and Matt Sames need to raise $550,000 a year for researchers to develop a treatment for their 5-year-old daughter, Hannah Sames, who was diagnosed about a year ago with giant axonal neuropathy disorder, or GAN. If researchers can't find a treatment for the disorder, it could eventually prove terminal. Although $550,000 a year sounds like a lot of money, the Sames have emphasized that every penny counts. Kaitlyn Collins, a junior at Mohonasen Central High School, realized this and decided to do her part.

My mom had been telling me about Hannah for a while, and I work really closely with the Key Club, so I said I have the resources to definitely be able to do [a fundraiser], said Collins. "My grandfather has Lou Gehrig's disease, so it was one of those things where there's a connection. I thought that would be cool to help this little girl since we have something like this in my family."

GAN is a rare neurological disorder that usually appears in infancy or early childhood and is progressive. It slowly takes away one's ability to walk, use one's hands and swallow.

Collins started a fundraiser called the Penny War, a two-week-long project geared toward students and staff at the high school. It ends Friday, March 20. Collins said she hoped to raise about $500 to donate to Hannah's Hope Fund, which is run by Hannah's family and dedicated to funding research to finding treatment and a cure for GAN.

"Each grade has their own jar. The point is that you want to have the most pennies in the end in your own grade's jar," said Collins.

However, for every nickel or quarter in another grade's jar, the amount of the coin put in takes away from the grade's point value (one penny equals one point, a silver dollar equals 100 points).

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