- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Fresno elementary schoolers have gotten a wave and a smile from a badly burned firefighter after collecting 44,000 dimes to help the center treating him.

The Fresno Bee (https://bit.ly/1P7gnqA ) says Maple Creek Elementary students went to Leon S. Peters Burn Center on Friday to see Pete Dern.

The fire captain suffered burns over 65 percent of his body when he fell through a garage during a March 29 house fire. He remains in critical condition.

His wife, Kelly Dern, accepted a check from the students for the burn center. She says the visit made her husband’s day.

Meanwhile, an online fundraiser for Dern and his family has raised more than $157,000.

Authorities say the fire was deliberately set and a woman has pleaded not guilty to two counts of arson.

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