Chain reaction of caring
A new school year has began for Carbon High students. Sports, homecoming and many other activities dominate their lives as they get back into the routine of class schedules and home work. Again this year, the school is involved with the Rachel Project. It stresses to the students the role each of them have in being part of a caring, responsible community. Pay it forward and start a chain reaction of good deeds.
It is having an affect on the students far beyond the posters and slogans that are scattered around the building and delivered to them daily over the school PA. Two very different stories of fellow teens in need of help have caught the attention of the student body and the kids have stepped up with grass root efforts to help.
Many in this community have already heard about Carbon High sophomore Brooke Sherman. She is dealing with a serious illness and is currently receiving chemotherapy treatments. Even though she is covered under her parent's insurance policy, the cost to treat her is overwhelming.
This summer members of the Carbon High cheer leading and drill teams began fund raising efforts to help the family with the costs. They have run drill and cheer camps, and pool parties. Others have jumped in to help. The FCCLA (Family, Career, Community and Life) club put on a Glow-A-thon after the football game last Friday night to continue raising money. To date the efforts have succeeded in raising over $10,000 dollars to go to help defray the family's medical bills.
Brooke continues to attend classes despite the ravages of her illness. Students keep an eye on her and stop and see if she needs help when they see her in the halls. The Carbon High Volleyball team stepped up at their first team meeting this season and scrounged up $150 in just a few minutes. Soccer player Lydia Jeppson is running for Miss Teen and has organized a "Locks of Love" campaign to raise awareness and funds.
Even as this near heroic effort is steam rolling ahead, another issue that involved a local teen also energized the adolescent community to come together with additional help. After years of struggle with life troubles many of us can't even imagine, former Carbon High student Angel Romaro took his own life. His mother had moved back to Mexico and left him to find his way here. Though his life was bumpy and he made many decisions that kept him from finding success, he touched many people along the way.
Two hundred kids flooded the parking lot at Castleview Hospital to hope for the best when he was taken there. Hope ended days later with the donation of his organs to help others stay alive.
Quickly work flew via text message that there was no one to help with funeral cost or to help get the body back to Mexico for the family to bury. An impromptu gathering at a Price park immediately raised $900. By Tuesday an account had been set up at Utah Central Credit Union.
The students ask Carbon High Principle Greg Stanfield if they could pass "the hat" at the school to raise more funds. District policy prohibits memorials for students that have committed suicide. It is to make sure they are not helping "glorify" an act that might make it acceptable for another student that is on the edge to make the same choice. Stanfield felt like the fund raising was not breaking that policy and the kids were allowed to proceed. They collected over $600 dollars in a short period of time.
Later in the day, Stanfield got clarification that even the fund raising was not allowed and he spoke to the students and explained the reasoning. Talking to the students who organized the drive they said they respected the explanation and honesty from principal.
Not to be deterred, they quickly planned a dance at the Elks for Saturday night and again used the popular technology of texting to get the word out. The kids streamed into the dance to do what they could.
High school cheer leading co-captain Theresa Martinez is involved in both fund raising efforts, though she has spent more time dealing with Brooke's cause. She sees many of the same students involved with both efforts.
"It has brought us closer rather that against each other." she said. "We have seen a need and just want to help however we can."
Carbon High Football player, Mario Trejo, was one of Angel closest friend. He wanted to do something to help out the family that Angel left behind and a bit to help himself deal with things,
"I am angry and sad. It's all I can think about. I was with him the night before and everything seemed OK and we had fun. He was sad, but he is always sad, he fought with his girlfriend alot so I didn't ask him. Now..." he didn't finish as he gathered himself.
Carbon High Softball player, Darian Smith was one of the organizers of the Elks dance and she also was using this to both help the family and herself cope with the aftermath of the decision.
"This is a good cause. As soon as I got the text message that money was needed for his burial expenses, I turned to my mom as ask if we could do something like this. This is what Angel would have done, he liked to help out."
Everyone who spoke said very similar things about the boy who felt like he had nothing, "He was like a brother to me" were the words said over and over again. Even Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo took the time to come to the dance and spoke kindly of the days Angel spent at his house sharing barbecue meals in the back yard.
Mario Trejo want anyone out there struggling to know how much it hurts friend and family left behind. He also emphasizes that you need to think about what you say to people, you never know when you won't get another chance. "You have to care."
But the most amazing thing from both of the stories is the grassroots actions of the teens to step up and help. Kris Daugherty is co-owner of Party Express with Brooke's mom, Prudence. She also knows of the struggles of Angel and much of his back ground. She is in awe of the work the kids in the community are doing to put their lives and need on hold to help out in both of these situations. Because of the kid's efforts, the community support has also been overwhelming.
Rochelle Badback, Darian Smith's mom, was also proud of the kid's helping kid's efforts that are taking place. There was no judgment about who needed help more than the other, it was just about doing it. She thinks they will hit their goal of $5,000 for Angel's expenses with the proceeds from the dance.
The two stories unfolding right now show the compassion and caring and sense of community that is alive and well in Carbon High. These kids are our future and if we are to judge things by what is happening now, then our future is truly bright.