By Brad Bowman
Judy Lea thought of every Campbellsburg Elementary student as her own child.
As a cafeteria manager, Lea kept more than canned goods on the shelves. In a closet, Lea kept shoes and coats for students who needed them. Lea couldn’t stand to see any of her children (Campbellsburg Elementary students) go without. Sometimes, the expense came out of her own pocket, but for Lea it didn’t matter.
Students returned the favor when Lea was diagnosed with cancer in 1986. Elementary students and staff raised money for Lea who couldn’t work, as the cancer treatment grew more extensive. Lea passed away before she could use the funds, and a memorial fund set up in her honor still helps students in Henry County. Now in its 27th year, The Judy Lea Memorial Henry County Children’s Spring Fundraiser event will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 11, at the Henry County Middle School.
Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Judy Lea Memorial Henry County Children’s Fund, Carol Hunt said the fund has raised more than $300,000 to help with everything from medical costs to students who don’t have money for field trips.
“The need is still there. Everyone from principals to school nurses watch for children who have needs,” Hunt said. “If we can make an impact on one student, it’s worth all the effort. If a child receives help from their community and it inspires them to stay in school, it affects the community in a positive way and that’s what we are about.”
The memorial fund is a 501c3 nonprofit made up entirely of volunteers. Some of those volunteers knew Judy Lea and have been volunteering for almost 28 years, according to Hunt.
“Our volunteers are the people also in the school cafeterias, namely women, that have worked all day and dedicate their free time to stay on after their work day is over and cook for the fundraiser,” Hunt said.
The fundraiser will have dinner and a silent and live auction for attendees. An all-inclusive vacation package to Cancun will be up for grabs and entertainment provided by Magician Steve-O. According to Hunt, anyone can get in on the magic of the event to help the county and honor Lea.
I’ve had people say, ‘I didn’t know Judy Lea,’ and I tell them they don’t have to know her to help,” Hunt said. “It’s about the community. Every year we give away scholarships to both Eminence and Henry County students for college. We help about 25 kids every year at Christmas. As far as money is concerned, we spend about $15-$20,000 a year to help children in the county.”
For more information about the annual fundraiser visit: www.judlyleamemorialfund.com.