The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 17, 2014

Pet pig helps Tanner girls soccer raise money for family of fallen classmate

By Jonathan Deal

TANNER — What’s the worst thing you could wish upon your favorite or least favorite teacher? For Tanner students it’s making them kiss a pig.

On Friday, three lucky Tanner teachers got to kiss “Maddie,” a pet pig from Elkmont. The pig-kissing spectacle was all part of a fundraising effort from the girls soccer team. Originally intended to raise money for new jerseys, the fundraising cause changed two weeks ago when the players lost one of their classmates.

On March 4, Tanner senior Alexis Hamilton died in her sleep. The 19-year-old special needs student was loved by all who knew her, according to Special Education teacher Susan Harrell.

“Everyone loved her” said Harrell. “She always smiled and was so full of joy. She was really excited about going to prom. I know she was looking forward to graduation and looking forward to the Special Olympics.”

The tragedy changed the recipient of the money raised from the fundraiser, but not the method. On Friday, a six-week campaign culminated with three Tanner administrators kissing Maddie, a well-behaved pet pig.

The fundraiser began in January, shortly after the Tanner’s girls soccer team was organized. The team found out they would need new away jerseys, and the fundraising effort began with an idea from team member Katelyn Northup.

Northrup and her mother found the pig-kissing idea by searching the Web and soon spread word throughout the school. From kindergartners to seniors, students spared what they could to see the teacher of their choice kiss Maddie.

In the end, it was assistant principal Angela Schiff, math teacher Pam Pepper and Social Science teacher Eric McGee that got up-close and personal with Maddie.

In front of the Tanner student body Friday, those three lucky teachers puckered up and kissed Maddie for a good cause.