Madison School students fund ‘Make-A-Wish’ to spread joy
Coins collected, stickers transformed clothing and whippe cream pie flew – everywhere – tagging teachers and tickling the funny bones of children at Madison School. No one minded the sticky after-effects, knowing it all goes to a good cause.
Madison School students raised more than $1,545 over the course of last week for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the hopes of contributing to a terminally ill child’s dream.
“It’s fun for the students to give something back to the community, to help make a positive difference,” said music teacher Schuyler Gardner, who helped organize the weeklong events with Student Council members.
“It means a lot to me,” fifth-grader Taslima Keefe said. “I want to help out and make other kids’ dreams come true.”
The school annually chooses a charity to donate to and has various activities and entertainment throughout the week to raise money. Each day last week comprised of a coin contribution (Monday was a penny or pennies, Tuesday a nickel, and so on) along with fun events.
Wednesday students purchased stickers (with proceeds going to the cause) and at the end of the day were able to stick them on Principal Karl Bancker. In a similar way, students purchased tickets on Friday for a chance to succeed at the culminating event: a pie in a volunteering staff member’s face.
For the kids though, it was more than fun and games.
“This gives kids out there who don’t get to do things like us hope,” sixth-grader Shannon O’Donnell said. “It makes them happier … it’s amazing. Even if one person brings in just one penny they found on the floor it all adds up.”
This year, the charity chosen was Make-A-Wish because Madison School houses some of their own “Wish kids,” like sixth-grader Emmalee Jaskolski. Emmalee was the kick-off assembly speaker and shared a bit of her story with the hundreds of students in the building.
Nearly three years ago, Emmalee was diagnosed with an extremely rare autoimmune kidney disease in which her body attacks her kidneys. She continues treatment today as part of a clinical trial in which she receives medicine intravenously once every two weeks.
Her wish was to visit Disney World.
“When I was at Disney, I could finally feel like a normal kid again and not have to worry about treatments and hospital visits,” she told the students. “It was a dream come true. Without that, I would have never been able to know what ‘normal’ was, and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
For fifth-grader Samuel Totzke, Emmalee’s story was a bit of a surprise, but it also showed him the benefits of working hard to contribute.
“I think it’s really amazing that kids have these really bad diseases, and I want to help,” he said. “Having a Make-A-Wish person in our school is pretty cool because it’s like we’re raising money for him or her. It means a lot.”
Despite still undergoing treatments – this is a disease Emmalee will need to combat for the rest of her life, her mother Ashlie Schertz said – Emmalee remains a strong, outgoing youngster.
“It’s a great organization to raise money for to have kids like me or Sam or Shannon or Taslima – any kid – with a life-threatening disease have their dream come true,” said Emmalee, who doesn’t see herself as special necessarily, but rather someone who has a little extra to work with, a disease that has become another part of her life.
“I want to inspire people not to hide anything and to be who they are,” she said.
It’s one more dream of Emmalee’s that is coming true.
“I think that when we actually have someone brave enough to tell their story, it encourages us to do more,” Taslima said. “I’m really proud of Emmalee.”