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The Power Of One :: Sierra Vista High School Supports Project Mariposa

May 31, 2012 by Victoria Strong
The Power Of One :: Sierra Vista High School Supports Project Mariposa

Bill and I have always believed in the power of one. This basic belief that one person can help create change is why we founded the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. While we were never naive enough to think we would singly-handedly cure a complex disease, we held fast to the idea that we could help create more change by doing something rather than by waiting for others to do it all. One person is powerful. One person can make a difference. And one person can reach another person, who in turn reaches another person, and so on and so on. That is our belief. That is our mantra. It always has been. One person, one dollar at a time -- NEVER GIVE UP. 

We are very fortunate to have family and friends and supporters who hold steadfast to this belief too. People who completely rallied around us when we asked for their help generating SMA awareness just after Gwendolyn's diagnosis and who continue to help raise awareness and funding all on their own without us saying a word. We are continually amazed by all they continue to do. When faced with the brutality of this disease and the complexity of many of the issues surrounding it, it can often feel like we are swimming upstream. But each time someone does a fundraiser, each time we learn of a new person rolling up their sleeves, each time someone says, "I'm doing this to help!", we are reinvigorated and reminded that this "one" philosophy is true. 

One example of this is our dear friend Heather. Heather is a teacher at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas. From the moment Gwendolyn was diagnosed with SMA, Heather (and her family and several other good friends in Las Vegas) has helped with anything and everything she could. She was heavily involved with garnering support for Petition To Cure SMA and the Chase Community Giving and the Helmet of Hope contests, joined our Unite For The Cure and $200K for SMA fundraising campaigns, and has not stopped pursuing any and every avenue she can. Her passion has flowed over into her school and each year new students have gotten involved because of her. This year Heather and her students took on Project Mariposa and made it their mission to help us grow it so that more lives can be changed. 

All year long Sierra Vista High School students and staff have been doing fun things to raise money. In the fall Heather (aka Mrs. Foglia) came up with a creative photo guessing game to do during Spirit Week: 26 teachers gave baby photos of themselves and the students paid $1 to guess; those who guessed correctly won a gift card. It was a hit with hundreds of students participating. And the students who helped organize it were then so excited about how much they raised that they came to her with ideas of what more they could do. They spoke to other students, got other teachers involved, and pretty soon everyone was talking about how they could help. 

From Heather: 

My students really jumped on with everything they had and extended the fundraiser in so many unexpected directions. Through all of the buzz, other groups at the school jumped on board with their own contributions and I am so moved by how involved the whole school got: students, teachers, administration ... One teacher sells muffins before school and at lunch.  The profits usually go into a general fund here on campus. That teacher committed to giving all of the profits from last week's sales to our efforts. Then, a few of my students proposed ideas to the band and choir directors, who were immediately so supportive. Our band teacher was really touched by Gwendolyn's story and collected donations in band classes all day today. And the choir director decided to donate HALF of all of the profits from their winter fundraiser. It has been such a great experience for everyone!

 

Sierra Vista High School students continued to dedicate efforts throughout the year: their Penny War, hot cocoa sales, even incorporating a fundraising element into their annual "Mr. Mountain Lion" pageant for the first time. Throughout the year the students excitedly calculated exactly how many iPads they had helped buy. And we think it is absolutely awesome that these teenagers value helping others and are excited about giving back. And because of Sierra Vista High School FIVE more Project Mariposa grants will be given tomorrow. FIVE iPads will be helping to open the world for FIVE additional people.

Thank you Heather for being a shining example of the power of one. Thank you Sierra Vista High School staff and students for rallying around our cause, for going above and beyond, and for instilling philanthropy in your students and each other. You have made a difference!

What can YOU do to help make a difference too? >> Host a fundraiser, become a Project Mariposa Sponsor, donate, buy theGSF NEVER GIVE UP. merch and then tell others who will tell others...

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