The Edmond Sun
From retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon taking the stage and howling like a wolf to the students and faculty completing dares, it was a star-studded assembly at Santa Fe High School as the students’ Double Wolf Dare Week came to an end.
The Warriors for Freedom Foundation was honored Friday as the recipient of DWDW at the final “Reveal” assembly when the school’s total for the one week of fundraising was shown.
As the students were told they had passed their goal by raising $151,671, it was revealed American Funds out of Chicago matched the first $100,000 raised and donated the matching money to Folds of Honor in the name of the school.
The Folds of Honor Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is dedicated to providing educational opportunities otherwise unavailable to the families of fallen heroic American citizens.
Junior Storm Rund was DWDW chairman for the week and led the students “To Make a Difference” in the lives of the brave men and women who have given so much so that Americans can live in freedom.
“We chose Warriors for Freedom because we knew it was a great cause,” Storm said. “We wanted to make our students and the community aware of the problems faced by our veterans when they return or by their families if they don’t.”
Storm said the students hoped to provide mental health care through North Care in Oklahoma City for veterans coming home and to provide shelter for those who come back and have no place to go.
“There are about 70 homeless veterans who are homeless in the Oklahoma City area,” Storm said, “and we want to eradicate the veteran homeless population.”
Storm said as the students were preparing for the week of fundraising they put the large number $150,000, which was the school’s goal, on the gymnasium wall. He said something changed his life as he was sitting there looking at the sign.
“It was like I had an epiphany. I realized it is not about just raising money, but it is about impacting and changing lives,” Storm said. “We tore the sign down and left ‘Made a Difference’ in large letters on the wall.
“’DWDW: Where the power is in your hands’ became our motto for the week. It was not so much about how much we raise, but more about how we can change lives through what we raise.”
Representative for Warriors for Freedom Brett Dick told the students North Care, an organization that promotes health and welfare of veterans, and the Homeless Alliance will be working with Warriors for Freedom to help veterans returning home and their families.
“We feel anybody and everybody should be a Warrior for Freedom in our community,” Dick said. “You guys should be honored to be a part of the Edmond Santa Fe community.”
As final dares were performed Friday from painting Principal Jason Hayes’ hair green to licking peanut butter off a coach’s head to drinking a gallon of warm buttermilk, swallowing a goldfish and wearing a python necklace, students yelled for more as they dug deeper and came up with more change.
While the final dares were taking place, Edmond Santa Fe “Ugly Men” — the guys and girls charged with raising funds for Double Wolf Dare Week, rolled in a concoction of Oreos and melted cheese.
Aragon, an Edmond resident and Oklahoma secretary of Veteran Affairs, told the students the cost of freedom is measured in the lives of men and women who go around the world to defend freedom and that life in America is far superior than anywhere else.
Aragon introduced Jane Horton whose husband Christopher was a sniper and lost his life in Afghanistan. She told the students her husband breathed red, white and blue and was ready to go take out the bad guys and keep them away from America’s shores.
Horton said on Sept. 9, 2011, two uniformed soldiers knocked on her door and told her that her husband had given his life for his country and for each of them. She told the students that the freedom they have came at a great price.
“You all are my heroes,” Horton said. “Be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t forget the fallen and those who have sacrificed for us and our freedom.”
Major Ed Pulido of Edmond with an emotion-filled voice showed the students a Killed in Action bracelet Jane Horton had given to him with her husband’s name.
“We must always remember the sacrifice that was made for our freedom and will never leave anyone behind on the field of battle,” Pulido said. “Our call to action must be to take care of those left behind and those who return broken. We must continue to have the military and what it does for our nation at the forefront.”
Pulido told the students the power is in their hands to make sure no one is left behind in the field of battle emotionally or once they return home, forgotten.
Principal Jason Hayes said, “Our students could not have picked a better partner. When the Student Council voted to partner with Warriors for Freedom, we are helping veterans and their families in multiple ways. The Student Council felt Santa Fe could make a difference in so many lives in so many ways.”
Each year the three Edmond high schools donate a portion of their total fundraising to a nonprofit organization. This year A Leash on Life was chosen as the Common Thread and will receive 5 percent of the money raised by all three schools.