Rock Canyon High School is now in its sixth year of fundraising for Make-A-Wish Colorado. During those six years a lot has happened – blue t-shirt designs have been created, Wish Week fundraisers have been formed and most of all, nearly $300,000 has been donated to Make-A-Wish Colorado on behalf of 40 wish kids including Harley (2010), Taylor (2011), Natalie (2012), Mara (2013), Isaac (2014) and Jeremy (2015).
For many students at Rock Canyon, Wish Week is all they know – it’s part of their school culture and is part of the lasting legacy they plan to leave behind for incoming students to follow.
For two seniors, Ryan and Ariel, Wish Week is a favorite memory they will take with them off to college. It’s a favorite memory because of the impact their school has on that year’s Wish Ambassador and many other wish recipients suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. Seeing the happiness their school brought to kids because they were able to support their wishes-come-true is why Wish Week at Rock Canyon is so incredible!
Rock Canyon’s Wish Week consists of various fundraiser events both on and off campus. A few of this year’s Wish Week events included an opening and closing assembly, t-shirt and paper star sales, dodgeball tournament, local restaurant nights, after-prom fashion show and a miracle minute to collect change. This year’s Wish Ambassador, Jeremy, was invited to participate in a number of these Wish Week events, thus giving Rock Canyon students, including Ryan and Ariel, a more personalized fundraising experience.
Read about Ryan and Ariel’s perspective on a week they look forward to so much:
Ryan Hommel, Senior '15
I would like to share an incredibly special and memorable experience I had last week. As most of you know, Rock Canyon had its annual Wish Week for Make-A-Wish Colorado last week, but this week was different than any Wish Week I had ever been a part of in my four years at Rock Canyon.
Jeremy and his family changed my life. Jeremy and I developed a pretty close relationship over the course of the week (we even have a super cool secret handshake). It started at the fundraising dodgeball tournament when I introduced myself to him and his family. He was shy, but I could tell how full his heart was. At the time, I was wearing a fake mustache in order to play my part as an assistant coach of one of the Wish Week dodgeball teams. The next day at the Chipotle restaurant night, Jeremy's mom told me that they almost went out and bought a fake mustache for Jeremy because of me. I also found out Jeremy wore them frequently at the hospital, during his treatments. This gave me an idea... I knew that Jeremy's favorite colors were red, white and black, which just happened to be the colors of my first ever football team I played for. I decided to write Jeremy a simple, but meaningful message on my old jersey, and give it to him. The message wrote "Jeremy, NEVER stop fighting!" I also bought a few mega sized mustaches for us to wear together after the Wish Week basketball tournament. "Signing" that jersey is not me trying to be some kind of iconic figure or celebrity to Jeremy; it's me giving him motivation, and something he can look at when things get rough. On top of that, I dedicated my first college football season to him. Keeping Jeremy and his struggles in the back of my mind will always remind me to be grateful, and to NEVER stop fighting. I'll be forever grateful for Jeremy and his family, and the lifelong lesson they taught me, just by sharing their story during my last Wish Week for Make-A-Wish Colorado at Rock Canyon.
Ariel Bailey, Senior 2015
"Wish Week is the greatest week you'll ever experience in your life." Numerous people had told me that when I started high school. I believed that it was great and whatnot but, looking back, I guess I didn't fully understand what they meant. My most distinct memory was walking into the opening ceremony my freshman year and having no idea what I was getting into. As soon as the assembly started, I knew that I was proud to be a Jaguar.
Throughout the last four years, Rock Canyon has had the privilege of supporting Make-A-Wish Colorado wish kids from boys, girls, young, old, shy, and outgoing. As tight knit as Rock Canyon is, there is no explaining the unity that is exemplified in that week. Natalie was the first wish kid we supported my freshman year. She wanted to go to Disney World and she was the most outgoing little girl ever. Her favorite song was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and in the opening assembly, she led a choir of 2,000 high school students singing as loud as she could. She taught me to keep a smile on my face no matter what battles I was going through because I knew nothing would compare to hers.
We fundraised for Mara my sophomore year; a little girl who was so shy and quiet, but her eyes lit up the room when she smiled. Her wish was to also go to Disney World. Although she didn't say much, she always dreamed bigger than what she thought was possible. My junior year, 13-year-old Isaac dreamed of going to New York City. He engaged in our school and our activities we did for him and he really fit right into our students. At the dodgeball tournament, he played on one of the teams and after he won the tournament for his team, the entire student section rushed the court and chanted "Isaac, Isaac!" I've never seen someone so happy, despite the hardships they've faced.
Jeremy was the final wish kid we fundraised for during my time at Rock Canyon. He wished to go on a Disney cruise as well as for it to rain hot dogs. Of course, there was no other way for the closing ceremony to end than to do so. Counting down from ten, balloons fell from the ceiling in hot dog forms and rained over Jeremy and his family. Although he was shy, you could definitely tell a difference as the week went on in his relationships with individual students and the student body itself.
Looking back over the past four years and interacting with all the wish kids, I couldn't be more grateful to have shared these opportunities with such an amazing school, wish kids, and an organization like Make-A-Wish. Wish Week has taught me the reason to give and the reason to appreciate everything I have been blessed with. Continuing onto the University of Oklahoma next year, I am hoping to continue working with the Make-A-Wish program in Oklahoma City and continue to help grant wishes in every way I can. Natalie, Mara, Isaac, and, our most recent, Jeremy have all left foot prints on my heart and my only hope is that Rock Canyon and each wish kid's week was everything they could've wanted and more.
This year, Rock Canyon High School raised more than $65,700 for Make-A-Wish Colorado on behalf of Jeremy’s wish to go on a Disney cruise. No matter the donation amount – big or small – every donation to Make-A-Wish Colorado supports children with life-threatening medical conditions. To learn more about getting involved and making an impact in your community, please contact Lauren Beede
or Ashlee Carey