Community shows support for teacher with cancer

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County community is showing its support for a teacher who has always supported her community.

In early September, Heritage High School teacher Caroline Ingle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infections, after what originally felt like a series of flu-like symptoms.

A 1994 graduate of Rockdale County High School who returned to the county to teach English eight years ago, Ingle has been known to organize food drives for her students and show support for her school. Ingle, who now teaches ninth-grade students to prepare for college and the work force in Project Success classes, also been a public speaker for the past year, serving as Rockdale County Public Schools' Teacher of the Year. Her mother Carol Ingle was Teacher of the Year in 1981 and has been a teacher for about 30 years.

Now, the community is organizing fundraisers for donations to Team Caroline 2010 for the Night Walk of the Leukemia Society to support her treatment and the cause.

Following donations from Chianti Italian Restaurant, Roly Poly sandwiches, Las Flores Mexican restaurant, The Whistle Post Tavern and others in Conyers, Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q will be the next local company to join in the fight by donating 10 percent of its proceeds from sales all day on Thursday for Divine Swine for Caroline.

"Jim 'N Nick's philosophy is to give back to the community," manager Gary Bridgewater said. "The Ingles have been a longtime family in town ... and we felt the need to do something."

Inspect-All Services, a home inspections and pest solutions company in Conyers, also is showing support for Ingle's boyfriend Robert St. John, who had to resign from the company last month to help care for her.

"We thought it was something normal (when she first got sick) ... and then all of a sudden we got the news," said Brian Lunsford, president of the company. "From the moment we heard the news about Caroline, we knew our company had to do something. Not just because of our ties to her, but because it's the right thing to do."

The company is donating 50 percent of all its initial pest control proceeds, as well as $100 from every initial termite treatment, to the team when a customer mentions Ingle and her fight against cancer.

Friends and family also have recently shown up to Chianti on Friday nights -- Ingle and St. John's date spot -- to show their support for her. The restaurant also is giving 10 percent of proceeds from filet of sole orders -- Ingle's favorite -- through the month of October.

Students and fellow faculty and staff members at Heritage High School also joined in the fight to raise money and show support by wearing orange shirts and ribbons to school last month.

Even her fellow Georgia Bulldog fans have converted to wearing orange to show their support. And Big Frog Custom, a T-shirt design company in Snellville, is donating $10 from each "This Dawg's gone orange for Caroline" shirt when customers ask for "Caroline Ingle's shirt."

Ingle's Light Team will walk during the Night Walk of the Leukemia Society, which begins at 5 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.

Guests can read her journal and sign a guest book on her website at www.caringbridge

.org/visit/carolineingle. Ingle's walk team page is available through www.lightthenight.org.