Children Helping Children Part 1August 10, 2010 by Victoria Strong There's something about children helping children...it gets me every time. It makes me both choked up and motivated to see these innocent faces filled with so much determination and certainty. I love it. We are invigorated by their selflessness and their generosity in giving up a toy or a playtime or whatever it is they do to help another child. Over the last few months we have been simply floored by the efforts of children -- with some really incredible adults guiding them. All of these came as a surprise, some we only learned of after they took place, and every single one left us weak at the knees and determined not to disappoint these darling kids and their earnest efforts.
Belmont Elementary School, Bronx, New York --> You already know Lauren from her Run for Owen fame. But Lauren is also an incredible teacher at a school in the Bronx. Every year the entire school selects a charity to raise money for in their Penny Harvest campaign, usually a locally based cause. But this year, after learning about Owen and this no-good disease, the Belmont students decided in minutes that they wanted to fight SMA and chose the GSF as beneficiary. What is extra compelling is these students do not come from homes with extra pennies lying around and yet they managed to raise $830! Thank you Belmont School...you are amazing!
Cold Springs Elementary, Santa Barbara, California --> Remember when The Cold Springs Elementary School students selected the GSF as their "Charity of the Year"? Since last fall these darling children, organized by the student council members, have been selling bracelets, collecting coins, and even held a talent show to raise funds to fight SMA! Bill, Gwendolyn and I actually attended the talent show and I had quiver cry chin throughout the entire thing -- they were adorable and loved meeting Gwendolyn! They raised $665 -- the most the student council has ever raised for a charity! And we are so proud of their efforts.
St. George School, Winnepeg, Canada --> You may remember the wonderful Prokopetz family from last year's Sponsor-a-Mile campaign. Well Lisa Prokopetz is not only an amazing mom, she is also an awesome teacher. Lisa (or Mrs. Prokopetz as she's known to her students) started talking to her students about SMA and showing videos of Gwendolyn to help teach tolerance and understanding -- and spread SMA awareness as well. To the delight of Lisa (and us), the 7th and 8th grade students really responded -- they had questions, they wanted to see more, they wanted to know more, they wanted to help. And so over the course of the year Lisa's students have learned about the brutal reality of spinal muscular atrophy, but also that the children who are impacted by it are just like them! To end the year, Lisa asked if I'd be willing to do a video chat with her class so they could officially meet Gwendolyn. We were so excited by the idea and after a few technical glitches had the most amazing experience. The students were so thoughtful with their questions and Gwendolyn loved being part of this. Thank you Mrs. Prokopetz's students and thank you Mrs. Prokopetz!
Stillwater Hockey Association, Stillwater, Minnesota --> We received the most adorable letter from the "Islanders" of the Stillwater Minnesota Area Hockey Association that in recognition and appreciation of a local family they were giving a gift in their name to support the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. The letter read, "These young men would love to 'check' this awful Spinal Muscular Atrophy disease into the boards & 'slap-shot' this terrible thing into an unlimited 'penalty box' for good! As you can see by their mean, scowly faces -- they have the team spirit and drive to take on any opponents! SMA would have NO chance against these hockey monsters!!!" Well, these are the most adorable hockey monsters I have ever seen. And we feel so honored that they not only joined our mission to end SMA, but that they did it as a way to honor someone for their help and dedication. Wow!These children and the incredible adults guiding them give us so much confidence that SMA will indeed be checked into the penalty box for good!