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Students plan fundraiser for Portage elementary staff member with cancer

February 6, 2019

Humor and kindness top the list of traits Lewiston Elementary students see in Bobbie Greiner.

“She loves to joke around. She called me ‘Muskrat Mae’ when my family found a muskrat in our basement,” fourth-grader Maelie Baerwolf remembered as she inspected gift baskets collected for the school’s administrative assistant, who’s been unable to work since Dec. 12.

Greiner is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, diagnosed in October, and the school’s community -- including staff, parents and students -- is raising money for her medical expenses.

“Get Your Pink on For Bobbie” is from 2-7 p.m. Feb. 23 at American Legion Post 329 in Briggsville, featuring a silent auction, games for kids and dinner choices of soup and chili.

“I want to help her because she’s always been so nice and caring,” said fifth-grader Brody Kayartz, who along with Maelie noted getting help from Greiner in her office whenever they were sick or injured.

“She’s really special to me,” Baerwolf said.

Kayartz and Baerwolf have known Greiner since they were in kindergarten, they said, and they’ve each written at least three letters to Greiner during her absence.

They’re not alone.

“Students have sent cards and letters and little gifts to her -- probably 25 items per week,” said Lewiston teacher’s assistant Heidi Brost, who’s filling in for Greiner at the school. “They miss her. She’s the kind of person who’s loved as soon as you meet her.”

Greiner, 47, has worked at Lewiston for about 25 years. Julie Gerner, the school’s cook, has worked with Greiner for the past 14. Gerner and Brost have taken the lead in organizing the benefit for Greiner.

Parents, friends and teachers have put together various gift baskets for the silent auction, which also has received donations from more than 25 businesses.

“I’ve never met anybody who said a bad thing about Bobbie,” Gerner said. “She’s such a warm, kind-hearted person, but she’s a jokester, too -- right down to the farting machine she keeps hidden in her office.”

Greiner’s famous contraption is remote-controlled and has a speaker that emits the sound of all varieties of flatulence, Gerner explained.

Greiner often deploys it when somebody bends over.

“Sometimes she’ll hide it in my milk cooler,” Gerner said with a laugh.

Greiner said in an email that the hardest part of her breast-cancer diagnosis is being absent from the school. As the school’s go-to person for ill students, Greiner said she needs to be careful not to pick up infections that might be going around the school as she undergoes chemotherapy.

Greiner starts radiation treatment in March.

“I miss my kiddos and their parents so much,” Greiner said. “The students stay in touch with text messages and weekly bags of cards and letters that they have made for me. Boy, how those keep me going. I keep all of them.”

Organizers have raised about $500 from T-shirt sales, and the shirts not yet sold should be available for purchase at the benefit.

“I am extremely blessed to live in such an incredible community with such caring and amazing people who are reaching out and fighting right by my side with me,” Greiner said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the benefit or how to donate to the cause should contact Gerner at 608-697-6332.

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