Wilsonville community lends hand to children's hospital
After a series of Doernbecher Children's Hospital fundraisers, Wilsonville High School raised more than $6,300 to help kids battling cancer and other serious health issues.
Doernbecher Days, which is a number of fundraisers that lasts about a week at WHS, began Monday, May 20, with an assembly. The WHS community attempted to reach a goal of $2,500 to earn the treat of having a staff member shave their head. That amount was reached and art teacher Christopher Shotola-Hardt sat under the razor.
"This is the second time I've been the staff member to get my head shaved for Doernbecher. The first time was in 2008," he said. "It's a small gesture to express solidarity with folks who lose their hair when they undergo chemotherapy in their fight against cancer. That hits close to home for me, since I lost my mother to cancer."
For the past 24 years — and three years at West Linn High School before WHS was built — WHS has chosen the children's hospital at Oregon Health & Science University as its charity of choice and has raised more than $160,000 for Doernbecher.
"It brings our school community together every year. It gives us a chance to think about the ways in which our community supports us and the ways in which we can support the community" said Mike Ryan, WHS teacher and Doernbecher Days coordinator. "It deepens our connection."
Earlier this year, the school hosted events like the Holiday Bazaar, which brought in nearly half of funds raised when about 60 vendors sold products for the holiday season. The money the vendors paid to reserve a table went straight to the hospital. Students also sold bracelets, held a toy drive and sold candy grams for Valentine's Day, among other small fundraisers.
During the assembly, students and staff had the opportunity to share personal stories or experiences with Doernbecher officials, and senior Cooper Mootz talked about when he underwent heart surgery his sophomore year.
"At Doernbecher, just reflecting back, right now I notice and I appreciate everything that hospital did for me and my family," Mootz said during his speech.
Also during the assembly there were band and choir performances, and staff had a karaoke competition.
To finish off Doernbecher Days, 12 student teams — that paid $60 per team — challenged faculty in basketball and kickball games.
"The faculty challenge is always wonderful to see. It's fun to interact with kids at a different level than being in the classroom, especially in an environment where the student might be better than the teacher or more skilled," Ryan said. "That's always quite fun, to hear the camaraderie and trash talk. It's a different playing field. You get to know the kids on a more fun, personal level."
New this year is the WHS Doernbecher Service Club, which hosted the toy drive. Next year, the club plans to have more small, year-round events to keep Doernbecher at the front of everyone's minds throughout the year, Ryan said.
"Like everyone I know, I have, and have had, many, many family and friends and acquaintances develop cancer. This is to honor all of them, but very specifically, this month here at Wilsonville High School, this is for those kids up at Doernbecher," Shotola-Hardt said. "Just a few weeks ago, I visited one of my former students up at Doernbecher and was impressed, all over again, by how fortunate we are that we live here and have that renowned hospital."