Riverton schools raise nearly $230,000 for local children fighting cancer
Riverton High School students stand at a doorstep during the school’s annual charity drive to ask for donations for a local charity in an exchange for performing odd jobs. (Michael Martinez/Riverton High School)
Gallery: : Riverton High School students cover their gymnasium floor after student body officers announced the grand total for their charity drive: $191,274.17. (Brycelee Johnson/Riverton High School) [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
Riverton High School and its surrounding feeder schools raised $228,097.68 for local children battling cancer during a three-week charity drive in December. The high school alone raised $191,274.17.
Riverton’s charity fundraiser, known as Silver Rush, is one of the school’s longest-standing traditions, but this is the first year that the high school invited other Riverton schools, including South Hills and Oquirrh Hills middle schools and Rose Creek Elementary, to join their efforts.
And while Riverton High’s student body officers were thrilled about their record-breaking Silver Rush total, up from last year’s $144,446.16, they continued to repeat what’s become the Silver Rush motto: “It’s not about the money—it’s about the change.”
“The purpose was to bring the community together to serve those families who are going through a really hard time,” said Adam Murray, student body president. “There’s nothing like it.”
The school’s student body officers selected Millie’s Princess Foundation as this year’s Silver Rush. The foundation, named after Millie Flamm, who passed away after fighting a 3 ½-year battle with leukemia, works to raise money for Utah families who are in the midst of their own childhood cancer battles.
Unlike other charities RHS has worked with in the past, Millie’s Princess Foundation introduced the students to the seven beneficiaries who ranged in age from 4 to 18, each living in the local vicinity from Lehi to Taylorsville.
Kyra Eccles, a senior RHS student, said her next-door neighbor was one of the children for whom RHS would be raising money.
“I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘This is so cool,’” Eccles, said. “To be raising funds for someone you know—for my brother’s best friend—it got really personal.”
The seven children and their families came to Riverton High for a dinner night and opening and closing Silver Rush assemblies, giving students an opportunity to get to know them.
“It wasn’t just us putting money in some big charity pot,” said Ashley Lund, a member of student government. “We knew where our money was going; we knew who it was going to.”
Four-year-old Andelyn, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in October, connected with a senior student at the group dinner, according to her mother Jessica Hadfield. While Andelyn couldn’t come to many of the Silver Rush activities because of her medical condition, Hadfield said that same senior student made a special trip to visit her newfound 4-year-old friend at their house.
Andelyn was in the hospital for most of the drive, but she continually watched the YouTube video of Riverton High’s opening Silver Rush assembly to make her feel happy, according to her mother.
“Silver Rush will be a help for us financially with medical bills and other stuff, but I think those teenagers did so much good just by helping my 4-year-old feel loved,” Hadfield said.
From ugly sweater stomp tickets to campouts, date auctions, movie nights, concerts, a male beauty pageant and more, the high school collected donations for the local families. They collaborated with businesses and restaurants, getting them to share a portion of sale proceeds Silver Rush and had nightly group outings to perform “odd jobs” for community members in exchange for donations.
Each day, student government members collected money at lunch, often inviting students to participate in challenges and activities for charitable donations. Student representatives also carried around giant jugs, asking for spare-change donations.
But while the students were collecting donations, they were left in the dark about how much money was being raised. The main office staff and student government adviser Katie Borgmeier counted the money before the school gathered for a closing assembly, where a banner with the total number of donations was unveiled.
“I was sick the whole time during the closing assembly because I was so anxious to see how much money we had raised,” said McKay Nelson, who helped plan Silver Rush. “But then I just remember the feeling that came over me when the banner was dropped and we saw our grand total—over $191,000—and I just started crying. Those two seconds made the whole thing worth it.”
Hugs and tears and shouts continued as students rejoiced in what their school and community accomplished.
Amidst the chaos, 6-year-old Parker Bonnet sat, sporting a wolf hat that covered his bald head, while his mother, Regina Bonnet, said she sat considering the service that had just been performed for her son and six other children.
School representatives had given Parker the hat at the beginning of the drive, when he still had a full head of hair, and it quickly became “his favorite thing” during his treatment for his second fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to his mother.
“While Parker didn’t understand the full implications of what was going on, I was just so very grateful,” Bonnet said. “I don’t even know how to put into words the love that we feel from the kids and the community. They put their hearts and souls into it, and we are forever grateful.”