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Students will earn funds for Tucker's medical care by doing community service projects.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Little Tucker, center, came to the assembly with his family, brother Jonas, parents Ashley and Justin Murders, and sister Haddi.
Students at Metolius Elementary adopted 8-month-old Tucker Murders as their Sparrow Child at an assembly Jan. 25, and will be doing projects to help his family with medical expenses.

Little Tucker is the son of Ashley and Justin Murders, of Culver, and the brother of Jonas, 8, and Haddi, 5. His brother is a student at the school, and his mom used to work there.

Regarding the Sparrow Club, regional director Nancy Childers told the students, "By helping a child with medical needs, you can be a hero and make a difference in Tucker's life."

In the program, students learn about compassion and kindness as they get to know the Sparrow child's family, and raise money for the child through community service projects.

Childers explained that Les Schwab Tires has agreed to be the Metolius sponsor by donating money for students to earn through service projects. Metolius Principal Adam Dietrich noted, "For every hour you help in the community, Les Schwab gives money to the family. You could help clean a park, around the school, or help a neighbor shovel or weed."

Baby Tucker

A short video was shown to the kids about Tucker's health condition.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Metolius Principal Adam Dietrich introduces the students to the family and Sparrow Director Nancy Childers, on left.When Tucker's mom was 37 weeks into her pregnancy she was sent to a specialist who discovered a problem with her unborn baby's heart. He was diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects his heart, immune system, and development.

He also has truncus arteriosus, a rare defect of the heart in which a single common blood vessel comes out of the heart, instead of the usual two vessels (the main pulmonary artery and aorta). His parents were told Tucker would need surgery soon after he was born. Tucker was 5 pounds, 4 ounces, when he arrived at 39 weeks. He was immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit for seven days to prepare him for heart surgery. He received a donor valve that he will eventually outgrow. Tucker was in the hospital for 28 days after the surgery. Just before he was supposed to be released from the hospital, they discovered a small blood clot in the large veins in his chest. He was put on a blood thinner and had to stay on that for the first three months of his life. Because Tucker never learned to nurse or drink from a bottle, he has a nasogastric tube and gets nutrition daily through the tube to his stomach. He still gets feeding in the night as well. He's small for his age, at 6 months old, he wears 3-month-old clothing, but he's growing and getting stronger every day. He sees a cardiologist every other month to make sure his heart is growing and working properly. Tucker recently had a cardiac catheter procedure, where doctors put a stent in the conduit in his heart. This made it a little bigger for now, giving him more time to grow before his next open-heart surgery. In spite of so many challenges from the very beginning, Tucker is a happy little baby who brings so much joy to his family and friends. Sparrow Cash raised for Tucker will help with ongoing medical expenses, and everyday living expenses.

Students at Metolius Elementary School will "earn" Sparrow Cash by completing a minimum of 256 hours of sponsored community service.

Tucker's dad thanked the students saying, "This is a super powerful act you are going to do, and will help so many people in the community. We are going to get out and work with you, too. Thank you so much for taking us on."

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