Breakin’ bricks for cancer patient

A brick and board breaking fundraiser for 11-year-old cancer patient Maddy Thomas raised $4,451 on Saturday at Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo in Stanfield.

Brick by brick, board by board, students at Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo raised $4,451 on Saturday to benefit Maddy Thomas, an 11-year-old Echo girl with a brain tumor.

The studio was packed all afternoon as more than 200 bricks were shattered in the marathon fundraiser.

Erwin Watson, owner of the martial arts studio and business, said they also went through far more boards than bricks.

Watson’s taekwondo students solicited donations of $5 per board and $10 per brick to help cover the medical costs for Thomas, who has pilocytic astrocytoma, a brain tumor. She had surgery in October to remove part of the tumor and is undergoing chemotherapy to shrink the rest.

Home Depot donated the boards and bricks, and Watson said the bricks provided quite the workout.

Watson said the hard work — and soreness — were worth it, and he plans to soon present Maddy with the check. More donations also could come in, he said, so the final tally could be even larger.

• • •

Umatilla County and Good Shepherd Medical Center are offering a series of suicide prevention courses on Thursday, February 22.

The QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) course takes between an hour and an hour and a half and teaches participants how to identify and intervene when people are at risk for suicide.

The classes are appropriate for ages 14 and up and no experience is required. This class is free to attend and sessions begin at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Register at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

• • •

A pair of agencies are looking for relatives of Pvt. Howard A. Binder, who was from Umatilla and enlisted in the U.S. Army in Portland during World War II.

He is among a group of 13 soldiers who died Oct. 10, 1944, in Ajoncourt, France. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Army’s Past Conflict Repatriation Branch is seeking family members of Binder and others killed. Relatives are requested to submit a DNA sample to compare with remains recently recovered in the area where the men went missing.

Information about the incident indicate Company B (60th Engineer Combat Battalion) suffered the loss of 47 men during an explosion of anti-tank mines. Due to intermittent enemy artillery and mortar fire in the area, it has never been definitely established whether this or a defective fuse caused the explosion.

For more information, visit To make arrangements to submit a DNA sample, call 1-800-892-2490.

• • •

Patty Burres and Skyler Stokoe are the most recent Umatilla High School students featured in “The Promise of Oregon.”

The statewide public education support campaign was established in November 2014 by the Oregon School Boards Association. This year’s focus includes increasing graduation rates.

Photos of the students are featured, along with completion of the sentence, “I am the Promise of Oregon and staying on track to graduate because …” Stokoe shared about her interest in studying forensic chemistry to increase her knowledge. And, Burres touted the overall benefits of additional education.

“I want to be the best person I can be,” she said.

For more information, visit

• • •

It’s National School Counseling Week, and a good chance to thank a school counselor for all they do.

According to a press release from the Hermiston School District, at the elementary level a single counselor works with 400-600 students, at the middle school up to 800 students and at the high school four counselors work with over 1,600 students.

Counselors teach students how to resolve conflicts, manage anger and build self-esteem while providing academic support. They’re also the first to respond in crisis, setting up safe rooms and lending emotional support. They’re an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on, helping students through a variety of problems and issues.

We thank these counselors, and hope you will, too.


You can submit items for our weekly By The Way column by emailing your tips to or share them on social media using the hashtag #HHBTW.

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