Students, staff take the DARE

DARE week fundraiser benefits for Children’s Miracle Network


photo by Nora Godiksen

Junior Anna Wimberly and senior Abby Smith count up the collected money from Thursday’s donations. Through the week, $4,000 have been raised with $1,500 coming in on the last day.

About six years ago, English teacher Samantha Richardson’s sister was pregnant. She woke up one morning with a headache and as the day went on, it became progressively worse, so much so that she lost her vision because her brain was swelling and it was pushing on her optic nerve.

Her sister ended up having preclampsia, a condition where the blood pressure spikes. Her liver and kidneys were failing, and her body began to shut down. In order to survive, she had to give birth. The baby was born, 12 weeks early, barely weighing two pounds, and was put in a NICU for about six months. The bill, once they returned home, was $1.2 million.

Richardson, of course, was motivated to participate in this week’s Dare fundraiser.

“Raising money for Children’s Miracle Network is important because it will help families,” Richardson said. “Everything in a hospital costs money, nothing is free.”

The week of Feb. 5-9 teachers “dared” students to bring in money to their classes and as a reward, students would receive what their teacher promised, whether it be extra credit, a test grade dropped or homework passes. However, the students are not the only ones benefiting.

All of the funds raised will go to the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital at Arnold Palmer to fund for NICU vans to transport children to Arnold Palmer where they can receive care quickly, as well as surgical needs.

Richardson’s family is just an example of how donating to organizations like these can literally be life or death. While her classes heard her story, other teachers found that having incentives for students would persuade them to bring in money for the cause.

A common trend among the teachers, like math teacher William Dahlstrom and science teacher Marc Pooler, that seems to be working is when students choose their rewards.

Dahlstrom originally had students create lists of possible incentives; however, he weeded out ones that were unreasonable and gave them other, more beneficial options.

Each reward increased when the class raised an additional $25. So, at $25 he may drop a low grade concept check then drop a homework at $50.

“I went accordingly with what they wanted to do [for the week],” Dahlstrom said. “Those who wanted the rewards are really striving.”

Pooler took a more unique route, and instead of making the benefits academics, he turned to something more comical: he will be dyeing his hair and beard if his students reach the $100 goal. Currently, he is unsure of which color to dye his hair.

“Students suggested that I shave my eyebrows, another idea was for me to shave my hair and beard so there would be no hair at all,” Pooler said. “I do not care [what I have to do], it is for the kids.”

Senior Ross Fasone, one of the students who donated to Pooler appreciates that teachers are promoting the cause in many forms throughout their classes.

“Since teachers are all doing different things to encourage students to donate, it helps to bring awareness to what DARE week is all about,” Fasone said.

Throughout the week, six to seven leadership students have been going around at the end of the day to collect money from the 50 teachers who participated.

“Last year we raised $2,000 and our goal for this year is to double it and reach $4,000,” internal fundraising chair Serena Barker said. “This event is still very new but we hope to gain more awareness each year and bring in as much funds as possible.”

As of Friday afternoon, leadership sponsor Kari Miller announced the $4,000 goal was met, with $1,500 coming in on Friday alone. Individual teacher results will be announced on Tuesday.

Executive student director and founder of Tundra-Thon Camden Uhl got leadership involved with the Children’s Miracle Network. She was inspired by the “Knightathon” at UCF, and wanted to bring it to her school.

This made Hagerty the first school in the county to host a dance marathon similar to what they have at UCF, along with fundraising events like Miracle Monday and DARE week.

“Each year, Tundra-Thon will grow with bigger fundraisers and more student involvement,” Uhl said. “I am excited to see how many miracles Tundra-Thon makes through history.”