NEW PALESTINE — The first time Cassie Rooks heard about the opportunity to raise funds to help a sick child’s dream come true, she was moved to action.
She made a vow that one day she would help out. Now Rooks, 17, is following up on that promise. She’s raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“These kids’ stories are kind of something everyone can take inspiration from,” Rooks said. “I think that if we have the opportunity to do something for them, we should do it.”
Rooks, a New Palestine High School junior, has created a Make-A-Wish club at the high school. Her hope is to raise at least $8,000, the cost needed to make at least one sick child’s dream come true.
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“Knowing that they are going through a dark time in their life where they are constantly at the hospital and getting tests run, … I think that is something we should do for them,” Rooks said.
Make-A-Wish is a national program dedicated to granting a wish for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Children who receive the chance to have a wish granted range in age from 2 to 18. They must be referred to the foundation and determined to be medically eligible for a wish by their physician.
Rooks is working with the Indiana Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation helped her create the club at the high school to raise awareness for the cause.
The 15-person group is putting together a team to walk in a July 2015 “Walk for Wishes” event, which raises funds for the foundation.
Even when Rooks reaches her goal, she said she has no plans to stop.
“One of my goals is to raise the $8,000 by the end of the summer,” Rooks said. “But I also want to keep it going through next year as well.”
Rooks’ father, Todd Rooks, said his daughter always has been a compassionate person and first noted her caring manner when she was young.
“We’re big Disney fans, and we’d go to Disney a lot, and we’d meet some of the kids who where there for a Make-A-Wish trip,” Todd Rooks said. “That, I think, kind of sparked the thought.”
Cassie Rooks, who is also one of the school’s top golfers, is a member of the school’s Helping Hands community service program. That’s where her father said she has thrived, making a difference in others’ lives.
“Through her involvement in Helping Hands, she saw that no one had done anything with Make-A-Wish, so she reached out to the local coordinator, and they told her how to get involved,” Todd Rooks said.
Cassie Rooks said she and her club members know they have a long way to go. They have raised $500 so far, having sold decorated ornaments during the holidays. She said they hope to hold a few more events at the school, where administrators fully support them.
“We’ve got such great kids in our building that it’s not unusual for someone like Cassie to step forward,” assistant principal Miles Hercamp said. “They’re driven and come to us and say, ‘Can we do this?’ We don’t come to them, so that is neat.”
Amanda Pierce is the local Make-A-Wish development officer. She said it’s always welcomed when anyone steps forward to help a child battling a life-threatening condition.
“The support of the community is always essential to what we do,” Pierce said. “It really means the world to us when kids get involved while they are in high school because they learn about philanthropy at a young age.”
Pierce said anyone can donate or get involved in Make-A-Wish.
“All of our funds stay within our chapter,” Pierce said. “It’s really cool that the funds impact local families.”
While Cassie Rooks and other club members don’t know which child will benefit from their efforts, Pierce said the Foundation often shares stories of families, so people like Cassie Rooks will see how their fundraising dollars are put to work.
“The more stories we can share throughout the fundraising process, the more stories they will have to talk about during their fundraising,” Pierce said.
For more information on Cassie Rooks’ fundraising efforts, visit walkforwishes.org and select Indiana under the “find a walk” link. Once there, patrons will find the Indianapolis walk and can access Cassie Rooks’ and the school’s team page.
Anyone interested in joining the school’s walk team should email NPHSmakeawish@gmail.com.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wish every 38 minutes of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States.
Who can receive a wish?
Children ages 2 to 18 and have been referred to the Foundation and determined to be medically eligible for a wish by their physician.
Does a child’s condition have to be terminal to qualify?
No. Many of the children who qualify for a wish go on to lead healthy lives.
How can I donate to the local cause?
Visit the Walk for Wishes website. Select Indiana under the “find a walk” link. The event is Saturday, July 18, at Fort Harrison State Park. Select Walk Team New Palestine High School to donate.
Email: NPHSmakeawish@gmail.com to join the local walkers at the event.
Source: Make a Wish Foundation