In the middle of last year, tragedy struck at Lakewood Ranch High School when Paul Bourbeau fell ill and had to stop teaching.
Mr. Bourbeau, or Mr. B. as his students call him, is a science teacher and is on a leave of absence due to his illness, Crohn's Disease.
Many students at LRHS are worried about Mr. B. and wanted to help. Several LRHS fundraisers are in the works to help Mr. B pay for his medical bills and treatments.
The organizers of the fundraisers hope to raise enough money to assist Mr. B.
Science department Chairman Bryan Thomas has been keeping in touch with Mr. B.'s wife and updating the staff at LRHS about his condition through email.
At LRHS, Mr. B taughtBiology Honors, Biology 1, and AP Biology. He is anexperienced teacher, andother teachers had to step up or be hired to take his place.
Maria Whalen is currently teaching the AP Biology class, and Drexel Houston was hired to teach the other biology classes Mr. B. taught.
"We are hoping the changes do not affect our overall Biology End-of-Course exam (EOC) scores for our students and school," said Thomas. EOC exams cover all material students learn throughout the year.
"Whether Mr. B. returns to LRHS this year will depend upon his recovery," said Thomas. "Teaching is a very demanding job both physically and mentally.
"If he returns to LRHS, he will most likely be put in a different capacity than a classroom teacher," Thomas said. "That will be up to Mrs. Nancy Nesselhauf and the administration."
Crohn's Disease, a form of inflammatory bowel malady, is serious. The gastrointestinal tract is affected causing it to have severe symptoms, with side effects, including rashes, arthritis and eye inflammation.
This disease was previously classified as an autoimmune disease, but now it is classified as an immune deficiency state.
There is no cure for Crohn's disease and treatments are limited to stopping a relapse from occurring and keeping the symptoms down.
Mr. B. went through his first surgery in March where he had 15 pounds of his intestinal tract removed. Due to infection, his recovery was not what doctors hoped for.
Recently, Mr. B. had to go through another surgery.
He is out of intensive care and is being treated at Tampa General Hospital in a private room.
"The science department has seen Mr. B. struggle for years with his abdominal/intestinal issues associated with Crohn's disease," said Thomas.
LRHS hopes to raise funds by giving all of the money raised by the LRHS homecoming week event, Clash of the Classes, to Mr. B.'s cause.
This money includes all of the funds raised by admissions and the concession stand.
There was also a bowling event in November planned by the LRHS Key Club to help raise money. The event was at AMF Bowling Lanes on Cortez Road in Bradenton.
Lakewood Leaders members also held a fundraiser, Paul B. Student vs. Faculty Basketball Game and Half Time Dance Off Competition.
Students could earn one community service hour for each $5 they donate, and by bringing in one case of soda or water to be sold at the game. By bringing in a package of twelve full size candy bars, students can earn two community service hours.
"The Bourbeau family is in a desperate financial situation," said Thomas." Any assistance that our school and community can provide will be much appreciated.
"Our school has a tradition of doing community service for many people, and for many reasons," Thomas said.
"Fundraising for this situation is what Mustangs are known to do."