Ingalls benefit dinner raises funds for cancer care
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:22 PM
ARLINGTON This is exactly the kind of event that Tom Ingalls would loved to have shared with you all, said Pioneer Elementary Principal Karl Olson, during the Tom Ingalls Spaghetti Benefit Dinner at Pioneer Elementary Oct. 6. And if I know Tom, Im sure hes trying to convince his wife to steer the car here tonight.
While ill health precluded Ingalls own arrival at the event that was named in his honor, Olson echoed the sentiments of several other attendees and organizers of the charity meal when he praised the cooperation and contributions of the schools and the surrounding community in coordinating the dinner and bake sale, while also holding them up as tributes to the man whom their efforts were intended to support.
While the Pioneer Elementary Parent Teacher Student Association is still adding up the total amount raised, to cover the expenses that Ingalls family has incurred as a result of his thyroid cancer treatments, hundreds of parents, children, teachers, school staff and friends of Ingalls showed their support for the Pioneer Elementary kindergarten teacher, not only by buying spaghetti and salad at $10 a plate, but also by bidding on a table of contributed dessert items and even by dropping dollars into collection bins.
While Olson assured his audience of diners that Ingalls spirits have been lifted by the numerous pictures, videos and cards that community members have sent wishing him well, the parents of Ingalls students and his colleagues reflected on his achievements.
Heather Browns daughter Victoria is in the sixth-grade and her son Thomas is in the second-grade, but they both had Ingalls as their kindergarten teacher, and Brown admitted that she was as excited by his work as his own students were.
He had an amazingly different way of teaching, said Brown, who organized the spaghetti benefit dinner along with Amy Rocha and Michelle Jaromin. He really inspired the kids to want to learn more. It wasnt that hard to pitch this event to people, because hes positively affected so many lives. Hes always there for Family Fun Nights and student sporting events. Hes lost a little weight, but he will get better because hes very determined.
Rocha, a fellow Pioneer Elementary parent, never even had Ingalls as a teacher for any of her children, but because they volunteered for so many of the same events, they became good friends and she became impressed by the ways in which he interacted with students.
He loves these children, he loves what he does and the kids love him, even the ones who have never had him as a teacher, Rocha said. Hes always showing up at school functions in crazy hats and over-the-top costumes. He dresses up with the kids and puts himself on their level. I know he wishes he could be here tonight. Hes such a fighter.
Jaromin, president of the Pioneer Elementary PTSA, has known Ingalls for the past five years, ever since her son Ryan was in his kindergarten class and she expressed her desire to hear his cheery voice, and see his smiling face again, as soon as possible. She laughed as she remembered how many different crafts projects he managed to make out of toilet paper rolls. From birds to frogs to planes to rockets, hes the king of the rolls!
Amber Kalsbeek, Ingalls stepdaughter, nearly burst into tears upon seeing the scale of the event that had been staged for her stepfather, before explaining that I havent cried in about a week, so this is all overwhelming. On behalf of Ingalls entire family she commended the spaghetti benefit dinner as a wonderful show of support for an amazing person, and thanked all those who had attended or contributed.