CLEARFIELD -- Students at Clearfield High School rallied together recently in support of a 2-year-old girl in their community who has been affected by cancer most of her young life.
Brynlee Leonard of Clearfield was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer, a rare childhood cancer caused by abnormal cell growth when she was 7 months old. After six months of treatment, she was stable, according to her mom, Stephanie. However, one year later the cancer returned.
Brynlee is currently undergoing a second round of treatment. Her prognosis is good, but having dealt with so many challenges, Brynlee was granted the opportunity to declare a wish with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Her wish -- to see all of the Disney Princesses at Walt Disney World -- will take place in January, thanks to the assistance of students at Clearfield High School.
Students banded together during their Falcons are Fabulous week in December, an annual fundraising week for various organizations over the years. This year, the students chose the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and coincidently was given the opportunity to raise money for one of their own community members.
Each year, Clearfield High School raises around $12,000. This year their goal was $14,000, so they could grant Brynlee's wish, and raise enough to grant another child's wish. Clearfield students far exceeded their expectations, raising more than $20,000 during the week.
For Student Body Vice President Hadley Burton, the school's fundraising week is something she looks forward to all year.
"It's my favorite week of the year since it is such a big tradition at our school," said Burton. "It's neat to see everyone come together because I think our student body understands what it means to be in need, so they want to help others because they understand how much impact it makes."
Some of the activities the school put on during the week to raise money included a talent show that raised more than $4,000; miracle minutes during basketball games, getting change from spectators, where they earned several hundred dollars; the concert choir that charged admission, earning $1,000; a competition to see which grade could bring in the most pennies, raising more than $2,000; and, a winter dance that brought in another $1,000.
Once all of the week-long activities were finished, students had raised a little more than $14,000, but they still had their end-of-the-week assembly, which is typically known to bring in large quantities of further donations.
Stephanie Leonard brought her daughter, Brynlee to the assembly, and was surprised at how well the students treated her daughter.
"They treated Brynlee like a celebrity, cheering her on and taking pictures with her, which I think made it a little more personal for the students ... they could actually see someone from their own community," said Leonard. "It already means a lot that the Make-a-Wish Foundation would do this for us, but it means that much more seeing these students do something special for our daughter."
During the assembly, students raised another $6,000 with activities like auctioning off pies thrown at teachers and donating money to see male teachers shave their legs and do the hula.
Planning for the event began seven months ago when Karsyn Dahl, student body officer over service, began researching organizations they could contribute to for their Falcons are Fabulous week.
In years past, the school has raised money for the Huntsman Cancer Center, the Wounded Warrior Project, Project Guatemala, and even families in their community. Dahl chose the Make-a-Wish Foundation after learning about what they do for kids.
"I feel like everyone knows someone who is affected by a life-threatening illness, or knows someone who has made a wish through the foundation, so I turned their offices, and just fell in love with their program and the kids they help," said Dahl.
Dahl is not surprised her school raised so much money for the program, which ended up totaling $20,292.94.
"I am still on cloud nine seeing everyone at our school come together. We really are a big family that will do anything for each other, so it's not shocking we raised that much money," Dahl said.