Reynolds High 'adopts' medically fragile child
In a rousing all-school assembly Wednesday morning, Reynolds High School welcomed a new Raider, their "sparrow," a medically-fragile, two-and-a half-year-old boy the school is "adopting" and pledging to help and support.
"We want to make our community a better place by volunteering and helping people in the community who need help," said Ikenna Egbo, a 15-year-old junior and member of student government.
The Raiders are joining a national movement of children helping other children who are seriously ill through an organization called Sparrow Clubs.
Reynolds' sparrow, Juno, cannot sit unassisted, walk, crawl or hold his head steady. He needs assistance for daily living including eating, dressing and going to the bathroom. He can make sounds, but cannot speak.
Juno was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. This caused a lack of oxygen to his brain, a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Doctors treated Juno aggressively, but at 1 year old, he was diagnosed with quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy.
Some of his care is not covered by medical insurance and it is difficult for his family to keep up with the costs. The family also needs transportation that can accommodate Juno's wheelchair so the family can travel together.
Even more important now that the Gresham family is expecting a baby brother to join Juno in the spring.
Juno's mom Dawn is thankful for the help Reynolds students will provide.
"It's wonderful to have a sense of support and community outside our family limits. But I'm more excited that the students are learning about people with disabilities and acceptance," she said. "I worry about Juno and who he is going to encounter that will accept him when he becomes a student. This gives me hope for Juno's future."
Xavier Glenn, a 15-year-old sophomore, said "we hope our community realizes that we are more than a high school. We want to help out in the community and we want to help with Juno. We hope his family is helped out by this."
Reynolds High students will fundraise and engage in community service to assist Juno's family with the mounting medical and other bills.
Black Rock Coffee is the sponsor of Reynolds Sparrow Club and will "pay" students $10 per hour into an account for Juno when students take part in community service. Students can chose to volunteer anywhere, and the "paid" volunteer work is to be their main way to raise funds for their sparrow.
Clay Geyer, who owns three local Black Rock coffee spots with his partner Eddy Yunkherr, said "we love to give back. Black Rock, not just here, but all over the U.S., is taking on a leadership role with Sparrow Clubs."
Geyer, who attended the Raider assembly with his wife Katie, said "we feel grateful to have good health."
In materials about Juno, the Sparrow Club said "despite everything, Juno is a happy little boy." It noted "he loves to swim, go on nature strolls and run around in his walker."
Juno is a big Disney fan and dances to the songs by kicking his leg in time with the music.
Sparrow Clubs not only help the medically fragile children and their families, but also empower the healthy students that sponsor them to build empathy and experience helping in their communities.
"Sparrow Clubs believes that compassion can overcome anger, that generosity can overcome selfishness, and that integrity can overcome apathy," the nonprofit organization said on its web page. Earlier this year, Corbett Schools also adopted a sparrow. He is 5 year-old Taran, a Portland boy, who has several medical conditions including short gut syndrome, quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment and auditory neuropathy.