The Edmond Sun
“How do you spell ‘love’?” — Piglet
“You don’t spell it … you feel it.” — Pooh
Edmond North High School students were feeling a lot of love Friday as they learned they had passed their $225,000 goal and had raised $296,720, the largest amount ever raised, during their BALTO (Bring a Light to Others) Week.
Purple balloons bounced in the air as the total amount raised was unveiled and the students roared with excitement.
The North students chose “Winnie-the-Pooh” to be the theme for their week of fundraising, and they put in action one of A.A. Milne’s quotes, “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Each year the three Edmond high schools, North, Santa Fe and Memorial choose and raise money for an organization that has a community connection. The three high schools then choose a Common Thread and donate 5 percent of the money raised by each of the three schools to that organization.
North students chose the March of Dimes Foundation NICU to be the recipient of 95 percent of the monies they raised, and the Common Thread for the three high schools, A Leash on Life, will be recipient of 5 percent of the money raised by the students.
The last day of the week-long activities brings to a close that, for some, is the culmination of a year-long fundraising effort.
Student leaders, in this instance three co-chairs, helped plan, organize and lead the students and the activities they participated in to raise the many thousands of dollars. The co-chairs were seniors Sally Bock, Allyson Cain and Evan Paige.
Senior Parker Stewart started the assembly madness as he offered up his beard to be shaved for a price.
A drum battle between junior Billy Freniere, sophomore Matt Shipman and “Mr. Poohtinger,” Principal Jason Pittenger played in the background as Parker’s beard was shaved.
March of Dimes Foundation worker Julie LeClercq was on hand with her triplets who were born 10 weeks pre-mature and who later helped Megan (Hines) Gaines and her husband Zac after the 9 week premature delivery of their twin girls, Tatum and Harper, who are now 20 months old.
A former North graduate Megan shared the story of how she once sat in their place, and how the birth of her daughters and the help of a Mercy Hospital NICU worker changed her life.
“When I was once sitting where you are I never thought I would be speaking to a group like this,” Megan said. “My family is one of the families you guys are supporting. Julie was a shining light when I was at Mercy after the birth of my daughters. The money you have raised will help to put March of Dimes support staff in other hospitals around the state.”
Her brother Scott Hines told the students they were making a difference in helping parents through the fear of the unknown.
Parents will have someone to lead them through the uncharted territory and won’t have to go through it alone, Hines said.
Babies are admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) to receive additional specialized medical care. Reasons for NICU admissions include preterm birth, birth defects, breathing and feeding problems, infections or other medical conditions.
March of Dimes Foundation Director Belinda Rogers said, “I don’t know what to say. It is incredible. These young people really understand, and they understand what giving to others means.”
Gill Barnett with A Leash on Life said the money received from the students would go toward raising and training more service dogs.
“We train 12 dogs a year and it costs $12,000 to $15,000 to train the dogs for service,” Barnett said.
The Queen of the Fundraising was Caroline Geurin who raised $11,277, and the Co-Kings were Alex Crawford and Nolan Wilson who each raised $4,116.33.
This community service fundraiser helps students care for other people and help them in the best way they can.
BALTO Week, sponsored by the Student Council, is totally student driven, said StuCo sponsor Brian Hunter. “This is more than one week in February,” Hunter said. “It is a tradition and a way of life.”
Senior Perrin Duncan is Student Council president and one of last year’s BALTO co-chairs.
Edmond North students might say to the children and their parents who will be recipients of their fundraising efforts another A.A. Milne quote from Pooh, “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”