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Sparrow Club flies high, adopting its new member, Mya Muckey of Sherwood, in an assembly last Friday

TIMES STAFF: JAIME VALDEZ - Mya Muckey, above, is greeted by Mikah Baudino after being introduced as a Sparrow during Tigard High Schools assembly on Friday. At left, Mya gets the news shes the schools new Sparrow.During her short life, 9-year-old Mya Muckey has suffered numerous setbacks.

Born with a form of spina bifida, the Sherwood girl, who loves reading and playing with her baby dolls, recently endured the 20th surgery of her lifetime, a procedure designed to help reduce the pain she experiences.

But on Friday, it was all about her with an assembly undertaken by Tigard High School's Sparrow Club, who officially adopted Mya, a third-grader at Sherwood's Archer Glen Elementary School.

Laura Queen, representing local Sparrow Clubs, explained the club's goal of wanting to make the world a better place.

"If we can instill compassion in you, everything's going to be great," Queen told students, asking them to raise their hands if they knew anyone who ever had cancer, knew someone who was critically ill, had lost a loved one or had been bullied.

"It's all about compassion today," Queen said. "Meet Mya, she is nothing short of amazing."

When Mya was born, she was diagnosed with myelomeningocele, the most serious form of spina bifida that resulted in the bones in her back not being properly formed, leaving an opening and an exposed spinal cord. She had surgery to repair the lesion when she was only 1 month old.

In addition to the spina bifida, Mya also suffers from epilepsy, having her first grand mal seizure in 2013.

Although she uses a wheel chair at times, Mya has braces that allow her to walk and receives nutrition through a series of tubes inserted in her stomach, according to her her mother, Angi Muckey.

During the assembly, Cory Burket, director of franchising operations for Black Rock Coffee, told the students that the company would donate $10 to Mya for every hour of community service students performed, up to 256 hours.

"We believe in you guys," Burket told students. "We believe in the greatness that lies in every one of you."

He asked those who wanted to help out to stand up. Almost the entire student body did.

Burket also presented Mya with a colorful bracelet with the Black Rock motto of "Fuel Your Story." The other side containing Sparrow Clubs motto: "Find Your Wings."

A video laid out Mya's journey as well:

"More than anything I just want to be like everyone else," read one slide, highlighting a girl who loves science, swimming and horses. "My family loves me and encourages me to be strong."

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Mya Muckey smiles after being recognized as this year's Sparrow for Tigard High. Mya has suffered her entire life from the effects of spina bifida.Heading up the Sparrow Club at Tigard High are seniors Chloe Skinner and Cathrine Frisiras.

Although the club has been running at Tigard High for several years, Frisiras said they really wanted to place it on a different path than past efforts. She reached out to Queen earlier this year to see how they could accomplish that.

"This club means so much to me," said Frisiras, who said that the sponsorship is a way to financially and emotionally support a young person in need.

Skinner said the pair decided to reach out to Queen to see how they could accomplish that.

One way they discovered they could help was by sending Mya notes and cards of encouragement.

"We have boxes placed around the school," Skinner said. "The goal is to get her 1,000 (letters)."

Queen said both Frisiras and Skinner have been great to work with.

"They have been super-committed to reaching out to the family," Queen said. "They have made things happen."

She said the pair had responded with a huge amount of compassion even before the Sparrow project with Mya was even launched.

When Skinner told the student body that Mya was this year's Sparrow, she introduced her as "the sweetest girl out there" with Mya receiving a standing ovation.

TIMES STAFF: JAIME VALDEZ - Mya Muckey, 9-1/2, third grader at Archer Glen Elementary School, talks with Cory Burket, a Black Rock Coffee Bar franchisee, before being announced as this years Sparrow during Tigard High Schools assembly on Friday. Chatting with the unassuming Mya before the assembly, she was quick to point out she's actually 9 ½ with her next birthday coming on Feb. 17.

Mya said her favorite subjects are math and reading. She loves reading Dr. Seuss books as well as the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. In addition, she likes to play with Littlest Pet Shop and Baby Alive toys.

At the same time, she has big plans for her future.

"I want to be a surgeon because I want to help other kids like my doctors help me," she said, noting that her surgeons at Randall Children's Hospital are "really nice."

Angi Muckey is a special education teacher at Sherwood Middle School. Muckey said her daughter had been adopted as an introductory Sparrow last year to learn what the program was all about.

She said her daughter can walk with the help of braces and her most recent surgery in November was undertaken to relieve some of her daughter's pain and improve the quality of her life.

"She's in chronic pain," Muckey said.

But she also noted something else important about her daughter.

"She's the strongest kid I know," she said.

TIMES PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Laura Queen, representing local Sparrow Clubs, talks about the 200 notes and cards Mya Muckey received from Tigard High School students.After the assembly, Mya was presented with 200 personalized cards from students. The young girl said she was excited by the large number of notes, saying she would add them to a door at her home that already contains 60 cards.

Queen said she was moved by the support and love students showed with numerous students coming down to meet Mya or have their photo taken with the young girl.

"You just wonder if they're going to get it and look at their faces," she said, noting that one student had tears in her eyes as she huddled around Mya.

TIMES STAFF: JAIME VALDEZ - Students take up a 30-second collection for Sparrow Mya Muckey Friday.

Efforts elsewhere

Meanwhile, students at Sherwood High School also adopted a Sparrow on Friday. Her name is Stella, who is described as a "spunky 3-year old who loves to dance, go to the beach and play with her sister. She is funny, smart and loves Trolls, Minnie Mouse, baby dolls and all things princess."

When she was a healthy 2-year-old preschooler in the fall of 2017, she started getting sick. Eventually her blood tests showed her counts were low and she underwent a blood transfusion, according to her Sparrow Club bio. She underwent two bone marrow biopsies that showed she didn't have leukemia but in February 2018 Stella awoke with enlarged lymph nodes in her neck and a fever. Admitted to Randall Children's Hospital, she was diagnosed with high risk accute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"She is doing incredibly well and will continue treatments until June 2020," according to her bio. "Despite all of these challenges, treatments and hospital visits, Stella is one of the sweetest most nurturing three-year-olds you will ever meet. She loves macaroni and cheese, broccoli and her cats, Timber and Jasper."

Sparrow Coordinator Queen said 15 Portland-area schools adopted "Sparrows" last year, completing over 14,000 hours of community service. In the process, they raised more than $83,000 for families with kids undergoing some type of medical crisis.

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