Teacher may embark on a unique first kiss, for a cause

Charity: Harbor Montessori educator plans to run half-marathon, could kiss a goat in front of kids if she meets fundraising goal by Friday

of the GatewayDecember 25, 2013 

Jenna McConaughy’s husband’s nephew, Colin, visits Walt Disney World to visit two of his favorite characters, Minnie and Mickey Mouse. Colin died of Neuroblastoma at age 2. McConaughy is raising money for the Tinkerbell Malf-Marathon at Disneyland next month. The Harbor Montessori teacher says she’ll kiss a goat in front of everyone at school if she meets her fundraising goals by this Friday.

JENNA MCCONAUGHY/COURTESY PHOTO

Jenna McConaughy will don a costume and run through the Happiest Place on Earth next month, but before she goes, she might have to kiss a goat.

McConaughy, a middle school teacher at Harbor Montessori, plans to run the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon at Disneyland in honor of her husband’s nephew, Colin, who died at age 2 in January 2012 from neuroblastoma.

This Friday would have been Colin’s fourth birthday, and McConaughy wants to finish her fundraising for the race by that date. If she does, she said she’ll kiss a goat in front of the students at school on Jan. 6.

“I hear lipstick will be involved,” McConaughy said.

The goat will come from a farm owned by a student’s family. The Montessori method teaches care of the earth and animals, she said.

“We’ll be very nice, sweet to the goat,” said Aimee Allen, head of the school.

McConaughy sent a letter home to parents about her fundraising effort. She wants to raise $4,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the amount marking Colin’s would-be age this year. She sent a letter home to parents Dec. 16 to ask for help. She needed $1,790.

In only four days, the school fundraiser brought in $800. As of press time Tuesday, she was 95 percent funded.

Allen thought it was a great idea to get students and their families involved with McConaughy’s cause.

“When she has an idea, she’s all-in,” Allen said. “I think it’s very Jenna to come up with a creative way to get everyone excited about it.”

McConaughy’s step-sons, Adam, 7, and Sean, 9, went to their piggy banks to get a dollar for Colin. They want to donate even more. The two boys have a candle for Colin that they light to remember him when they feel sad.

Last week, with all the talk about Colin, they were lighting the candle again. They’ve also been asking their friends to donate.

“They’re really open with Colin’s story,” McConaughy said.

Donations can be made at McConaughy’s fundraising website, pages.teamintraining.org/sd/tinkerb14/forcolin. She posts on the 12th day of each month to mark the date of Colin’s passing.

McConaughy said her goal is to not to just raise money but awareness of the warning signs associated with neuroblastoma. When Colin visited with his family from South Carolina in November 2010, there were signs that he was not well. He was sluggish, had no appetite and had dark circles around his eyes. Cancer as a factor was not discussed.

On Jan. 12, 2012, Colin was sedated, because of his young age, for an MRI after a CT-scan showed a need for a follow-up. He never woke up.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” McConaughy said. “It’s tragic that it happened so quickly.”

Colin loved Disney and got to go to Walt Disney World for his first birthday. A picture of Colin with Mickey Mouse is up on McConaughy’s website.

“He just fell in love with Minnie and Mickey and everybody,” she said.

When McConaughy heard about the half-marathon at Disneyland, she thought it was something Colin would have liked to see. She’ll be dressed as Nemo, one of Colin’s favorite Disney characters, thanks to a vote on her website.

McConaughy said she’s excited but a little nervous about the goat kiss. After all, goats have teeth, she said.

Allen said it’s natural for McConaughy to be nervous.

“First kisses are always nerve-wracking,” she said.

More online

To follow Jenna McConaughy’s progress or to make a donation, visit pages.teamintraining.org/sd/tinkerb14/forcolin. She posts on the 12th day of each month to honor the date of the death of her husband’s 2-year-old nephew, Colin.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155.

The Peninsula Gateway is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service