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Sandy Journal

Jordan students raise thousands of dollars for young student dealing with cancer

Mar 08, 2023 04:21PM ● By Julie Slama

In support of the Jordan High winter fundraiser that paired the school with Butler Elementary’s Henry Ellison, boys in Jordan High’s student government shaved their heads bald to match Henry, who lost his hair because of cancer treatments. (Photo courtesy of Spencer Jackson/Jordan High)

Henry Ellison is a fifth-grader studying French at nearby Butler Elementary who loves his dog, Oscar; is a big sports fan of the Jazz and Utes; and plays video games like Hill Climb Racing 2.

He also is undergoing 42 weeks of chemotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that forms in soft tissue, that was discovered last spring.

Henry was on hand at Jordan High’s fundraising assembly this winter where students pledged to raise money and support Millie’s Princess Foundation, which provides financial support and hope to families, like the Ellisons, affected by childhood cancer.

“It’s been a tradition and just a great way for students to connect and give back to the community to show our support,” student body officers’ adviser Travis Rowley said. “We had a goal this year of $10,000 and for this school, with our socioeconomics, that’s actually a sizable amount. Every dollar we raised was well earned.”

Principal Bruce Eschler said student leaders “busted their butts” to raise funds for the organization.

“The kids did a phenomenal job this year raising that money,” he said. “It is an organization that our high school students feel good about so they put in a lot of effort. It was all hands on deck. They just did the legwork. It was awesome they were able to meet their goal. I’m pretty proud of them.”

This year, Jordan High students brought in about $12,600.

SBO president Spencer Jackson was pleased they surpassed the goal.

“It was just really satisfying to see especially because it’s going to such a good cause,” he said.

In support, two teachers, including Rowley, and Assistant Principal Jason Long joined SBO boys in shaving their heads, and two teachers dyed their hair for the fundraiser.

Students raised the funds from holding school contests and competitions to performing odd jobs in the community.

“They went out in the community to do different odd jobs for individuals who needed help, then those people would donate whatever they felt the job was worth. It was a way our students could provide service to the community and at the same time, raise funds for children with cancer,” Rowley said.

Jackson, who ran for student body office as a chance to serve, said the fundraiser’s odd jobs gave students an opportunity to help others.

“Our school isn’t the richest in the valley, but there’s still ways that we can support others and give back to our community,” he said. “I have a passion for the school and love serving it and I want others to as well.”

The week they reached out to the neighbors was when a snowstorm hit, so they shoveled many driveways and sidewalks as well as put up lights and moved boxes.

SBO service vice president Franklin Lovell said that the neighbors supported their efforts.

“Seeing people in the community wanting to give to a cause was very enlightening and rewarding,” he said. “It was something everyone could rally around.”

They also held a dash for cash where student body officers would go to all the classrooms to collect money. Usually, if they met their goal, it resulted in an extended lunch by 30 minutes, Rowley said.

“Most of the kids in this building are always more than generous to have an hour lunch,” he said.

During lunch and at other times, students held activities and tournaments for the fundraiser.

Jackson refereed the 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

“It’s just fun to see our students come in and do something together—and that’s the case of most of our activities,” he said.

Lovell liked the four-table ping pong tournament. 

“It brought together a lot of kids that you don’t always see together and that was really cool to see. It was really fun,” he said, adding that the involvement in school and caring for one another is one of the reasons he wanted to be a student leader. “I really do love the school and the people; we get emotionally attached.”

Several businesses contributed by holding restaurant spirit nights and a portion of the sales would be earmarked to Millie’s Princess Foundation. Classic Fun Center also held a spirit night that drew a large portion of the student body to support the fundraiser.

Students held a raffle for items donated to the fundraiser from restaurant gift cards to Utah Jazz tickets as well as sold hot chocolate, pancakes, doughnuts and other items in the mornings to give to Millie’s Princess Foundation.

“We always had a line; we always ran out,” Jackson said. “Everyone wanted to raise money for Henry. He’s awesome and we loved raising money for him. He came to our beginning assembly, but it was tough for him to come to a lot of our events because he was doing chemo at the same time as the fundraiser.”

Lovell said that was a special opportunity for him and other students.

“Meeting Henry and his family was really special. It was really cool to have that connection with the family,” he said.

Henry’s dad, Dan Ellison, said that his son is continuing with treatments and periodic scans.

“Jordan’s fundraiser was a great experience,” he said, adding that several family members were able to attend several events, including Henry at their opening and closing assemblies. “The students there are wonderful, and they really did a great job with all of the events they planned. The SBOs were very caring and interested in Henry’s well-being. In fact, one student (non SBO) found out Henry loved animals and brought her guinea pigs over for Henry to play with.”

Ellison said that funds raised will help cover costs from deductibles on medical bills to tutors and programs to keep Henry on top of his schoolwork.

Rowley said that by working toward helping Henry and the Millie’s Princess Foundation, students learned about goal setting and teamwork.

“They learned that when they set a goal, through their hard work and dedication and bringing the entire student body together at Jordan, it will get you to where you want to go and in this case, help those they wanted to help,” he said.