What motivates Sue’s heart to continue to rally so many?
“It all started when I was teaching third grade over 20-years ago,” she says. “There was a young girl in my classroom, who had a wish and it was the most unforgettable opportunity for her and her family. Her name was Brianna, and her wish was to go to Disney World – we heard about her wish trip nonstop because it was the first vacation together as a family, and a time where they could all board a plane and escape their everyday reality.”
When Brianna returned from her wish trip, she fought with superhero strength for two years against a critical heart condition until she could fight no longer. Her passing is an event that weighs heavy on many, and continues to impact others, including Brianna’s school family.
“Mullen Elementary wanted to step up to remember this amazing, courageous girl, and because her wish trip truly changed her life, we were motivated to fundraise for Make-A-Wish in her honor.”
It all started 19-years ago with classmates selling blue bracelets and wish stars. Together, as a school, they raised $800 that inaugural year for Brianna.
“We started out small, and we continued to brainstorm new ways to raise funds for the next year. Some of the creative ways we have brought in money include a movie night where we charge admission and sell snacks, spirit days where students pay to participate, and our principal has even gone out of her way to get creative including the students fundraising to be principal for the day or ‘tape the principal to the wall’ for a dollar donation.”
Sue explains that the fundraising started to escalate ten years ago when it went districtwide. Now, the entire district is committed to transforming lives, one wish at a time. The fundraising culminates each year with a dodgeball tournament and basket raffle, happening this year on March 18, 2020.
“Sue shines when preparing for this event,” exclaims Superintendent of Schools, Timothy Oldenburg. “She is excited to learn who our district will be paired with to make dreams come true. She is emotionally charged to rally our students, teachers, and the Tonawanda community to raise more funds than the previous year. Sue is our inspired leader and has tremendous pride in our annual partnership with Make-A-Wish.”
“We, as teachers and administrators, focus so much on academics and testing, but caring for others is the most important lesson of all. It’s powerful for the students to learn about empathy and kindness by supporting kids who are battling critical illnesses, and the wish cause allows us to directly support families, here in WNY, who are deserving of a wish,” adds Sue.
Sue credits an amazing committee of ten teachers and faculty, who hold planning meetings each month throughout the year, to make each year bigger and better. The entire Tonawanda City School District looks forward to the 2020 year and helping to change more lives through the power of a wish.
Committee Members include: Karen Ammerman, Krista Berg, Denise Danvir, Sue Davison, Amy Edgerton, Melissa Kennedy, Pauline Kuun, Douglas Peita, Sara Rosiek, Debra Shaffer and Marie Volpe
School Principals include: Michael Brown, Diana Nigro, Claudia Panaro, David Sellan and Michelle Siebert
District Superintendent: Timothy Oldenburg
If you would like to learn more about how your school or organization can help to raise critical funds to support local wish families, please click here.