Sparrows fly at three local schools
Three Madras schools have formed Sparrow Clubs and "adopted" local "sparrows" or children who need help with medical expenses.
Organized by Sparrow Clubs USA, headquartered in Bend, the Sparrow Club experience teaches students that kids can be heros to other children and make a difference in their lives.
By getting to know their Sparrow child and raising funds for the child's family through community service projects, students discover the power of compassion combined with service.
While coming up with fund-raising and community service ideas, they develop creative thinking and planning skills, and gain self-confidence.
Club members are also asked to begin doing random acts of kindness for their Sparrow family for free, such as making cards for them on holidays, doing yardwork for them, caring for pets or other jobs.
Local business sponsors are another important part of the program. Each Sparrow has their own sponsor which agrees to provide $4,060 in project funds. The bulk of this money is then earned by Sparrow Club students through 256 hours of community service work.
The funds raised go to the Sparrow child's family to help with their medical expenses.
The three schools, Madras, Westside and Buff elementaries recently held kick-off assemblies to introduce the students to their Sparrows, and kids are excitedly making plans.
Madras Elementary's Sparrow is 5-year-old Heather Horn, the daughter of Charles and Debbie Horn of Madras. Heather has two sisters, Julia who is a kindergartener at Madras Elementary, and 8-month-old Angela. Les Schwab Tires of Central Oregon is her business sponsor.
Information provided by Sparrow Clubs USA notes that sweet, energetic Heather has been diagnosed with Henock-Scholein Purpura, an autoimmune deficiency which causes blood vessels to burst near the skin surface, resulting in what looks like many bruises.
Other symptoms include welling of joints in her ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and spine, and severe stomach pain and nausea. These episodes can be triggered by cold weather, and virus infections.
Heather's mother first noticed something wasn't right when Heather developed blisters and swelling in her feet which made it very difficult for her to walk, run and play.
Heather is a tough little girl who is full of enthusiasm for life. She loves learning and playing, and her favorite things include Care Bears, puzzles, Dora the Explorer, gymnastics and rock climbing.
Sparrow cash raised for Heather's family will help pay for doctor's visits, medicine to reduce the pain and swelling, an air filter/purifier for their home, and to have their home exterminated to keep the risk of infection down.
Billie White, Madras Elementary's Sparrow Club advisor, said the students have already started two fund-raising projects.
"They are in the process of selling Sparrow calendars now, with $6 going to our Sparrow and $6 to the regional organization," White said.
A free Family Movie Night will be held at 5:30 p.m., Friday, March 16, with proceeds from popcorn and drink sales going to the school's Sparrow fund.
Buff Elementary's Sparrow is one of its own kindergarteners, 5-year-old Kaegan Prevett, the son of Clint and Julie Prevett of Madras. He has an older sister, Nikkola. Kaegan's business sponsor is the Jefferson County Rotary Club.
Kaegan was diagnosed with Treacher-Collins Syndrome two days after his birth. This is a genetic birth defect characterized by a range of facial anomalies, which cause hearing, breathing and eating problems.
Young Kaegan was born with a cleft palate, small jaw, and no ear canals. He was unable to feed and breathe at the same time, so a feeding tube was inserted into his stomach at five weeks of age.
When he was 3 months old, he had surgery to implant several corrective mechanical devices into the bones of his small jaw. He also was fitted with a bone conductive hearing aid to interpret sounds based on vibrations.
Just recently, Kaegan had surgery to insert a new $3,000 hearing aid, funded by the Rotary club and students.
Kaegan likes football, camping, fishing and hiking with his family. He also likes Scooby Doo, monster trucks, and John Deere tractors. His favorite singers are Toby Keith and George Strait.
Sparrow cash raised will help pay for medical bills from surgery, the new hearing aid, and ongoing trips to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
Westside Elementary's Sparrow is 1 1/2-year-old Bryson Alonso, the son of Oscar and Elizabeth Alonso of Madras. His business sponsor is Madras RE/MAX Hometown Realty.
Bryson was born premature at 26 weeks. He had to spend three months in the hospital before he could go home with his family. After going home, he needed the support of oxygen and an apnea monitor to make sure he was breathing OK and getting enough oxygen.
It wasn't until Bryson was 5-months-old that the family found out he was not hearing well. Hearing tests revealed that Bryson had a profound hearing loss, which technically meant he was deaf.
The youngster now has the support of the Madras Early Intervention Services and is learning some sign language. He is a candidate for a cochlear implant, which could greatly improve his hearing.
A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound to a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing. The implant has an external part that is worn behind the ear, and a second part that is surgically placed under the skin.
Bryson is an energetic little guy who likes trucks and books and his mommy. He has been working with Early Intervention on his balancing and motor skills, and has made great progress moving around well and learning how to interpret sign language.
A cochlear implant is an expensive surgery that would require several trips to Portland. Sparrow cash raised will help pay for the surgery, trips to Portland to see doctors and other medical expenses.