Recalls Her Friend,
Former Doak Teacher
And Cancer Victim
Lisa White, At Event
BY LISA WARREN
Doak Elementary School student Makeelee Nelson was so excited she could barely speak as she walked out of the school library.
Waving her hands in front of her face, the second-grader found her voice and blurted out, "I'm so gonna faint!"
Makeelee had just met Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry, of The Band Perry, who made a surprise visit to Doak on Thursday as part of a special school fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
The excited young fan said she has seen the Perrys twice in concert, but this was the first time that she has been able to speak with the hometown celebrities in person and get their autographs.
"I'm such a huge fan!" Makeelee said, with a smile plastered across her face.
The 596 students at Doak knew that they would be receiving special autographed photos from The Band Perry -- thanks to a creative fundraising effort by the first-grade class to collect donations for the American Cancer Society (ACS).
But the students didn't know until Thursday morning that they would be receiving the autographs in person from the band members.
LEADER IN FUNDRAISING
Each year, Doak School takes a dedicated role in the local community's effort to raise money for the Greene County Relay for Life, an annual community fundraiser to benefit the ACS.
The school's support of the ACS is their way to honor the work and dedication of a late teacher, Lisa White, a cancer victim who was a long-time supporter of the Greene County Relay for Life.
Each year since White lost her battle with breast cancer, Doak School has held a tremendous annual fundraising campaign.
Last year, the school raised more than $34,000 in an impressive effort to benefit the ACS.
This year, the school's principal, Jennifer Teague, said the goal is to raise at least $35,000.
The Band Perry's autograph session was just one of several ways that the students and staff at the school are working to meet their 2012 fundraising goal.
As they stood in line waiting to meet the Perrys, fifth-grade students Christian Rose, Garrison Brooks, Jade Brown, Samantha Johnson and Brooke Morgan described the scene in their classroom when their teacher told them that The Band Perry would be making an appearance there that morning.
"We all screamed!" they said excitedly.
The Perrys, who were accompanied at the event by their parents Dr. Steve and Marie Perry, graciously met with each of the students -- frequently giving high-fives and hugs -- during the two-hour autograph session, where each Doak student was presented with an autographed photo of the band.
Many of the students could be seen greeting not only the country music stars, but also their father, Dr. Perry, who is a Greeneville pediatrician.
He said later that several of his young patients were among the Doak students.
The hometown heroes, who have taken the country music industry by storm during the past year, said that they were thrilled to be part of the event, especially since it was part of a fundraising effort to aid the American Cancer Society.
'TOUCHED OUR LIVES'
"Cancer is something that has touched our lives," Kimberly Perry said.
"We had an aunt who passed away from cancer, and Lisa White was a dear friend of ours. To honor those ladies in this way -- and to raise some money for the American Cancer Society -- is something we like being a part of."
The Perrys said they were extremely impressed with the fundraising tenacity shown by the Doak students and staff to honor former teacher White.
Kimberly Perry said visiting Doak, where her friend taught school, was very special and moving.
"It was amazing to honor her life today and to raise money for such an amazing organization," she added.
In the past month, the Perrys have been hard at work, traveling to such places as Las Vegas, New York City -- and to the United Kingdom, where they had shows in London and Dublin.
But the siblings said they are happy to be back home in East Tennessee, even if it's only just for a couple of days.
"It's so great to be back in the mountains!" Kimberly said with a bright smile.
"We're so happy to be here!"
The group's latest single, "Postcard From Paris," has just been released to radio stations.
The Band Perry will appear on the Lionel Richie TV special, scheduled to air on CBS on Friday, April 13.
Not only are the Perrys working on their second album, but they are also planning to be in Nashville this coming Tuesday, where they will participate in a fundraising concert at Bridgestone Arena to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame.
They will then head back out on the road and rejoin the Brad Paisley tour.