CULVER — Back in November, Culver Community High School teacher and Student Council sponsor Tina Stacy wasn’t sure the Council, even with its best efforts, could reach its goal towards Disney World trips for Culver’s two Make-A-Wish children, Chloe Hough and Chris Webb, Jr., with the holidays approaching and the recession in full swing.
The Council now has an amazing $10,084.81 in hand towards the $12,000 goal needed to make the wishes of young Chloe, age 8 (daughter of Larry and Loretta Back), and 4-year-old Chris (son of Sheena Passino) to fly to Florida with their families and stay in a special facility for children battling illnesses while visiting Disney World.
But as was the case with last year’s unexpected success when the Council sought to raise funds for a Marshall County boy’s wish — and ended up surpassing all expectations with $3,500 — the Council’s latest triumph required a huge outpouring of support from Culver and the surrounding community.
One example of this is the case of two Culver Elementary School sixth graders, Drake Garbacik and Brandon Havron, students in Missy Trent’s reading class. Members of the class are expected to perform a community service project towards their second semester grade. Trent, say the boys, read the class the November 11 Culver Citizen story about Chloe and Chris. Combine that with the notion of a school dance to raise funds for a worthy cause, and the result was the winter-and-Disney-themed dance at CES last Thursday evening, which took in $1,350, according to Stacy.
Drake volunteered to be the committee manager for the dance, and Brandon his assistant, and the two created a sign-up sheet soliciting classmates’ help. After approval from CES Principal Chuck Kitchell; an offer to donate Coca-Cola products from Plymouth plant manager Francis Ellert (whose daughter, Betsy, is a classmate of the boys); purchase of candy to sell, by Brandon and his family; plus permission, via Trent, to use the school’s popcorn machine for the dance, the project was off and running.
CES art teacher Joyce Lyman led the effort to make posters and other decorations reflecting the themes of the dance, and the Student Council lined up DJ Ken Badjek of All Pro DJ, who donated his time to provide the music.
Drake notes he has autistic cousins, “so I know what it’s like to deal firsthand with an illness...we hope we can raise as much as we need to and get, so the kids can get what they wanted.”
As for Brandon: “I just wanted to help them get their wish.”
And help they did. Few parking spaces remained empty at and around the school building Thursday evening, and area youngsters of all ages — including members of the Student Council, who joined elementary students on the dance floor — packed the gymnasium. Among those in attendance was Chris Webb — who was born with complex heart disease — and members of his family (Chloe, who suffers from cerebral palsy, faced potential risks in attending, said Stacy).
Other major community contributions included $2,000 from the United Methodist Women’s group at Wesley United Methodist Church in Culver and the Wesley UMW Thrift Store (located on Ohio Street); $1,000 from Culver’s Lions Club; $1,000 from JMC Engineering in Culver; $500 from the Plymouth Delmonte Foods employee fund and $481.60 from CCHS’ service group the CAVS Club. Students raised over $1,000 in the school building and by way of a jar at Osborn’s in Culver, and word of mouth-based donations came to the Student Council over the weeks, as news spread of the endeavor.
Stacy, now an official coordinator with Make-A-Wish after being inspired by the success of last spring’s efforts, is understandably pleased with the results of the students’ and the community’s work.
And needless to say, those early worries of not reaching $1,000 seem like distant memories now, thanks to an all-ages community collaboration.