High school kids harvest kindness to make dreams come true
DOUGLAS COUNTY – Every year, among academics, athletics and activities, high school students throughout Douglas County also seek ways to support kids and give back to their communities.
One avenue that many schools follow is participating in Kids for Wish Kids, a program of Make-a-Wish Colorado. The program is designed to unite students for a bigger cause, and in addition to granting wishes for sick children, it builds school spirit and encourages leadership and teamwork.
So far this school year, high schools in Douglas County have contributed $121,000 to Make-a-Wish Colorado, enough to grant the wishes of 15 children.
Rock Canyon High School
Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) students collected donations with hopes of granting the wish of Issac, a 13-year-old from Denver who has lymphoma. His wish is to go to New York City with his family.
Not only will Issac’s wish come true, but wishes of eight other children will be granted as a result of the generosity of the RCHS community. At an assembly held February 28, student representatives from RCHS presented a check in the amount of $72,517.79 to Make-a-Wish Colorado.
While Issac was fighting the flu and unable to attend the assembly, some special guests were in attendance at the assembly and gave the audience a unique perspective of how the school’s spirit touches lives.
Natalie and Mara, RCHS-sponsored wish kids from 2012 and 2013, joined the celebration and brightened the event with their enthusiasm.
The student body also heard from the mother of Taylor, the RCHS-sponsored child from 2011 who wished to travel to Australia. She delivered a thank you letter from Taylor, who passed away in 2012. The audience was clearly touched as a teacher read the letter.
RCHS holds the state record for Kids for Wish Kids fundraising, and has contributed $237,000 to Make-a-Wish Colorado since the school’s first Wish Week in 2010. Hayley Warner, then a student at RCHS, brought the idea of participating in Kids for Wish Kids forward, and the student council organized a plan to encourage participation from students, staff, parents, and the local business community.
“While we were hopeful and quite confident that the week would be a success, we were not prepared for the tremendous amount of support and selflessness that we received from the school and community,” writes Warner in a blog post on the Make-a-Wish Colorado website.
Warner adds, “Wish Week bonds the school and community in an unprecedented and unintended, but most magical way. It is truly the most life-changing and humbling experience I have been part of.” Read Warner’s full blog post here.
Legend High School
The "Love4Lexi Campaign" was held at Legend High School in February. Several events took place during the week of February 17, including putt-putt golf, dodgeball, "Pink Out" basketball games and a lunchtime head-shaving contest for teachers.
The students set their sights on raising money for Lexi, who has cystic fibrosis.
“I got the idea from Rock Canyon and ran with it,” said LHS junior MJ Atchey. “I think the kids really enjoyed watching it happen. Since it was the first time we did a wish week, I believe that they will donate much more next time.“
With a total of $12,000 raised, LHS provided more than enough to make Lexi’s dream come true – she and her family will travel to Disney World during spring break.
Mountain Vista High School
The students at Mountain Vista High School (MVHS) sponsored Dakota, herself a high school freshman, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April.
Dakota’s diagnosis prevented her from joining her classmates for a trip to Rome last summer. MVHS was determined that Dakota would not be denied the chance to visit the city. Their efforts resulted in a total of $15,000 in donations –enough to grant Dakota’s wish and that of another child.
MVHS senior Whitney Merrill interviewed Dakota when Wish Week began at MVHS. “Through this experience, the one thing that I have wanted people to know is that I am not just a ‘cancer kid,’ Sure, I have cancer and it is a part of my life, but cancer does not define me,” Dakota said. Read Merrill’s complete blog post here.
Douglas County High School
Iliana, the Wish Kid sponsored by Douglas County High School (DCHS), will be granted her wish to visit Hawaii. A colorful spirit week included themes for what to wear each day, and opportunities for all students to be involved. Activities included a dodgeball tournament, dance, chili cook off, teacher contests and a pie throwing contest. Donations came in from school clubs, including a donation of school store profits for the week from DECA. A total of $13,000 was presented to Make-a-Wish on January 31.
Students also made and signed a quilt for Iliana, who was diagnosed with kidney failure, reported Kim Clever, who teaches social studies at DCHS. Clever is one of the staff members who helped students with coordination of Wish Week activities. Iliana is now recovering from transplant surgery.
“Wish Week is a whole-school effort; it really brings out the best in our student body and their capacity for empathy and passion in helping others,” Clever said. “It is probably the single effort that touches everyone in the school, everyone knows someone who has been sick in some way, and wants to help support a peer.”
ThunderRidge High School
Thanks to the Wish Week campaign held in November at ThunderRidge High School, 15 year-old Samuel has been granted his wish. Samuel, who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a disease that affects the bones, now has the opportunity to collaborate with filmmaker Freddy Wong to produce a YouTube video.
ThunderRidge students motivated classmates, staff, the community and local businesses to participate in fundraising activities that resulted in donations totaling more than $8,000.
Chaparral High School
Chaparral High School will conduct Wish Week activities April 14-18, with proceeds from fundraising activities earmarked for a child who lives in Parker. The week will include a school assembly, a sale of wearable items, collaboration with local restaurants and a dodgeball tournament.
Amanda Ford, communications manager for Make-A-Wish, is thrilled with the impact the Kids for Wish Kids program continues to make.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” said Ford. “We’re so fortunate to have over 100 schools, including Rock Canyon and many schools in the Douglas County School District, fundraising for Make-A-Wish. It helps us grant wishes throughout the state of Colorado for children with life-threatening medical conditions.”