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Students mix service with entertainment for fundraising pageant for local hospital

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Eighteen senior boys will compete for the title of Mr. Doernbecher on May 4 with dance and talent performances and interviews judged by community volunteers. Students at Sandy High School are on a mission, and you can help.

This week kicks off the official festivities for the school's longstanding tradition of Doernbecher Week. For months, students have planned events and raised donations for Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Southwest Portland.

Leaders for the cause will make a huge push this week to get more students as well as local businesses and community members interested in donating.

All of their hard work will culminate in the Mr. Doernbecher Pageant at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the high school, 37400 Bell St. The pageant is open to the public.

Raising funds for Doernbecher Children's Hospital has been an SHS tradition for decades, longer than most faculty can remember. Spanning months, the teens go to fun — and sometimes extreme — measures to raise money for the cause while trying to beat the record of funds raised in previous years.

Students organizing the affair say what means more to them is helping the hospital and forming new and lasting connections with their peers.

"Every single dollar we raise goes to the cause," said Amanda Bishop, a junior and second-year event organizer.

Bishop was inspired by her friend Taylor McMahon, who has volunteered with Doernbecher Week for three years, since she was a freshman.

"It's super time consuming, but it's so important," McMahon noted. "It's something bigger than Sandy High."

McMahon's father was the 2002 Mr. Doernbecher when he attended Sandy High.

"It's cool to keep it going," she said. "We all know it's going to something good. Every school has their one big thing they do. I'd say Doernbecher is our one big thing."

Eighteen senior boys have been tasked with competing for the title of Mr. Money Bags for raising the most money and for the overall title of Mr. Doernbecher. Community member judges decide the winner based on students' performance in dance and talent competitions and interviews at the pageant. The boys come from all different backgrounds and interests.

"It's cool to see the boys come together close," McMahon noted. "All of the guys we work with are absolutely incredible. The atmosphere of practices and working for Doernbecher are great."

"(Doernbecher Week) is just such a bonding experience," added Sally Tripp, assistant principal at Sandy High. "(The students') camaraderie grows. It's a cool thing to see."

Talati Polamalu, one of the seniors competing for the Mr. D title, said he originally got involved because "I looked up to my brother and he participated in it last year, so I wanted to one-up him in fundraising."

As Polamalu has gone through the practices and spent time with other students involved, he's seen the fun-raiser "as an opportunity to connect with senior guys I haven't connected with before."

Of course, he also appreciates that the effort benefits Doernbecher.

"Treatments aren't cheap, and every little bit helps," Polamalu said.

For senior Mr. D contestant Kole Adovnik, the cause of helping Doernbecher is somewhat personal.

"My brother went to Doernbecher and they treated him awesomely," Adovnik noted. "The staff was great and his treatments went really well. They did such an awesome job that I want to give back."

"I think we've got a lot of kids who've got a good heart for service," Tripp said. "(Doernbecher Week) is something I'm very proud of the kids for. They're pretty capable individuals when they have the right opportunities."

The way you can help is to call the school about donating at 503-668-8011, donate to one of the individual Mr. D contestants or attend the pageant on May 4.

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