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Aloha Sparrow Club hopes to raise $10,000 to help family of infant with leukemia

Plans are underway to assist the family of 10-month-old Alicia Alexander

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jasmine Rizzo, a junior at Aloha High School, takes a selfie with the schools Sparrow Clubs recipient, 10-month-old Alicia Alexander. Packed snugly into her two-tone pink toy car on Tuesday, Alicia Alexander sat quietly, smiling for students as they huddled next to her to have photos snapped with the 10-month-old infant. Pretty good for a girl who only four days before went through a round of chemotherapy to treat her leukemia at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Alicia is this year’s Aloha High School Sparrow Club’s recipient, which means students there will complete a variety of community service projects and events in an effort to raise more than $10,000 to help the young girl’s family defray medical costs and help their child.

This is the eighth year the Sparrow Club has sponsored a child coordinated by Aloha’s Leadership Class.

“It’s an awesome tradition and we take great pride in doing it,” said Carlos Garcia, junior class president and a member of one of the Sparrow Club committees trying to organize events to help Alicia.

Garcia said they hope to undertake any number of service projects. In turn, the Safeway Foundation will donate $10 an hour for the students who can volunteer to work a total of 256 hours for a maximum donation of $2,560.

Montana Armstrong, a sophomore in the Leadership Class, said she thinks this year’s Sparrow Club recipient is adorable. She said the committee she is on is brainstorming to come up with specific community service projects

and events to raise money for Alicia and her family.

Those could include a 5K run, beautifying Aloha High School inside and out, holding a frozen yogurt sale or staging a Mr. and Mrs. Aloha Pageant.

As Aloha students flocked around Alicia in the school’s cafeteria on Feb. 17, her mother, Trinity Alexander of Beaverton, said her daughter was having fun, though she was a bit overwhelmed by the attention. TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kathie Cumbie tickles her 10-month-old grandchild, Alicia Alexander, during a recent visit at Aloha High School. Alexander is Aloha High Schools Sparrow Clubs recipient.

However, what really touched Alexander’s heart was the kickoff assembly on Friday when the entire student body gathered in the gym for the Sparrow Club to introduce Alicia.

“I’m amazed,” said Alexander. “My heart was just so full to see thousands of kids stand up and support my daughter (at the assembly).”

While Alicia couldn’t be at the event because she was undergoing chemotherapy, a video linkup beamed a shot of the sleeping infant to students in the gym.

Alexander said it was six months ago that she discovered her daughter might have a problem when she noticed that Alicia’s stomach was firm to the touch. She quickly took her to the pediatrician.

“That’s when it came back — she had leukemia,” said Alexander.

Since then, the family has made constant trips back and forth to Doernbecher with plans to spend five separate days at the children’s hospital next week alone.

On Tuesday, Kevin Aragon, a senior in the Leadership Class, said the kickoff assembly was a good starting point to help Alicia.

“I think it really helps to unite the school,” he said.

Fellow classmate Maria Guerrero said she likes the fact that she’s part of a group that will help organize and make a variety of events possible to make this a successful Sparrow Club project.

“She’s so cute. Her cheeks are so chubby,” Guerrero said of Alicia. “Today at lunch, we had so many people surrounding her.”

According to Erin Livingston, who serves as both Aloha’s Leadership Class teacher and the school’s activities coordinator, several past Sparrow Club recipients showed up during the assembly, including last year’s recipient, Christian Grun. The Sparrow Club raised more than $14,000 for the young boy and his family.

Just what the efforts to help Christian meant to the little boy’s family were highlighted during a final assembly last year when his father, Frank, thanked the student body for rallying to help his son.

“He told us, ‘You have restored my faith in humanity,’” Livingston recalled. “People were just crying in the audience. It was so touching and amazing.”

At Friday’s assembly, Frank Grun again shared his praise for the Sparrow Club as his son, who wasn’t walking last year, ran around the gymnasium.

“He said, ‘You are directly responsible for this,’” said Livingston.

Kathie Cumbie, Alicia’s grandmother, said students have been extremely enthusiastic and supportive in trying to help her granddaughter with three students recently coming to the hospital to visit her.

“They came to Doernbecher and played with her and Alicia’s older sister (Raquel),” said Cumbie, who has been impressed with her granddaughter’s resilience. “She’s amazing and she loves the nurses. And the doctor, she loves him. She’s the most content, even-tempered baby I’ve ever met.”

While Alicia must undergo treatment for the next 2 1/2 years before a more extensive prognosis is known, she’s currently in remission. When not undergoing chemotherapy, Alexander said her daughter loves to dance to music and play with her sister, Raquel, 8.

Meanwhile, the interest has been so intense that Alexander set up a Facebook blog for Alicia at PeaceLoveandaCureforAlicia.