Pennies and Pigs: Woodson students raise record-breaking funds for breast cancer research

Published 10:11 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

Woodson Critters got to meet a critter up close and personal on Friday morning.

Assembling inside the gymnasium, kindergartners squealed in delight upon meeting Pixie, a cute nine-month-old pot bellied pig, snorting in her kennel.

Jill Rollie presents a check to Kathi Finley and Paint the Town Pink Friday for $1,912.66, raised by Pennies for Pink. Eric Johnson/

Principal Jill Rollie motioned for her students to settle down and shared that because students had met their goal for Pennies for Pink, she’d be giving Pixie a “big ole’ smooch.”

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“Isn’t she pretty?” Rollie said to her students, to which the kids responded with laughter and excitement. Then she gave Pixie a sweet kiss on the snout.

Kindergartners and their families pitched in pennies to help raise money for PTTP, and have been involved in fundraising efforts for about eight years. Ideas for how to celebrate Woodson’s fundraising efforts came from the thought of kindergartners “draining their piggy banks” to help with breast cancer research. So, taking things literally, Rollie told her students that if they met their goal, she would be kissing a pig.

“It was fabulous,” Rollie said of her experience. “I never kissed a pig before. Our students were great citizens, and were very supportive. We definitely teach the  whole child. We teach them about citizenship, and we take the time to teach them all these skills and to develop them.”

Regan Brooks feeds a blueberry to Pixie after watching Principal Jill Rollie kiss the pig. Eric Johnson/

That was enough to sparked enthusiasm for students to begin pitching in their pennies to help with fundraising. However, the bigger lesson for students was learning how to serve the community through civics, and seeing how working together can achieve a goal. In this case, it was to see their principal smooching a piggy.

This year, Woodson presented Kathi Finley, director of PTTP, with a pink check of $1,912.66, which was a record-breaking amount that the students raised for breast cancer research being done at The Hormel Institute. Their initial goal was to raise $900.

“Wow, wow, wow,” Finley said to the kindergartners. “I cannot wait to tell the institute. We really appreciate it. It’s your pennies that’ll find a cure for cancer. To teachers and staff, you’re teaching a life lesson to your students that’ll benefit them forever.”

Pixie the Pig. Eric Johnson/

An Austin native herself, Pixie’s owners Shelby and Judy Bolar, of Lakeville, brought their beloved pet down to Woodson as part of the celebration that the school was having for exceeding their Pennies for Pink fundraising goal. All the proceeds will go toward Paint the Town Pink campaign.

“We were totally up for it,” Judy said. “Pixie’s used to people. She’s very spoiled. It’s nice to bring her back home to do this.”

Finley expressed her gratitude for the work that Woodson kindergartners and staff did to help with raising money to fight against breast cancer. Although the students were young, she shared that it was never too early to talk about helping others who were touched by cancer in some way.

“Back then, we didn’t talk about (cancer),” she said. “Now for these kids, they hear about cancer and talk openly about it when someone in their lives may have been affected, and this work makes it meaningful for them. These students will carry this lesson with them for their whole lives.”