Monday was an emotional day at Winamac High School as the entire student body saw the impact their support had on those they sought to help. Karen Butler, the student council advisor, sophomore sponsor, and sophomore English teacher at the high school, organized a penny war fundraiser between the high school classes with the help of the 36-member student council. The goal of the fundraiser was to raise as much money as possible toward the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent in honor of second-grader Aiden Spoor, the grandson of a teacher at Winamac High School.
Aiden was diagnosed last year with leukemia, and shortly thereafter, he began seeking treatment through the hospital. Earlier this year, Aiden’s grandmother Mary Plummer – a teacher at the high school – asked Butler if she would be interested in holding a fundraiser to raise some money toward the programs helping Aiden, and Butler agreed. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 5, five-gallon water jugs were put in each grade sponsor’s room, and students competed to raise the most money in pennies to score points, or the students could go on the offensive and drop silver change in their opponent’s jugs to reduce their points.
Within five days, the combined student body raised $2439.08 in change – a shocking amount, Butler said.
“I was totally amazed. As a teacher, I was very moved to see the students come together like that – again. And they do, time and time again, I’ve watched these students do so much for communities, and not even just our community, for other people. And I think it’s a positive, it’s a really big positive.”
This kind of community fundraising is in no way out of character for the school, as Butler explained the school regularly donates to the Riley Hospital for Children and hold numerous fundraisers throughout the year. Last year, in fact, Butler said the school held a fundraiser breakfast toward tornado relief in Henryville and other cities affected by the tornadoes.
On Monday, Aiden visited the school and thanked everyone during a convocation held in the gymnasium. Every high school student, and Aiden, received free ice cream for their efforts.
“It was really really nice to see our small school like this come together and raise that much money in five days. It was really awesome!” Butler exclaimed. “The kids got to meet Aiden, got to learn about some of the programs that benefit him, and they got to have a little fun in the process.”
Student Body President Ralph Thomas said the classes were eager to raise the money, but he never expected that much would be raised.
“We decided that we were going to get really, really into it, and we were going to make it as big as we could, and then we did. We had a goal, we went for it, and we exceeded my expectations by a lot. I never thought in a million years that we would raise that much money – but we did. It was amazing,” said Thomas.
Thomas went on to say that it was a big deal for the student body to be able to meet Aiden and see the impact their fundraising had.
“They really, really enjoyed seeing him. I think that was a big motivator to the students to actually see what kind of stuff that their money is going to, to see the impact they have, that they can have, if they just work and put forth the effort and go for it,” Thomas said.
Aiden is currently believed to be in remission, and is sure to be in high spirits in light of the overwhelming community support on his behalf. Winamac High School students will continue their fundraising efforts for worthwhile causes – an important life lesson the students will carry with them beyond their high school careers.