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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton High students raise funds to grant classmate’s wish

Mar 07, 2023 03:52PM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High student body president Sydney Ashment poses with her classmate and friend, Haley, who Brighton students supported this past winter fundraiser through Make-A-Wish Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Ashment/Brighton High)

Haley is a Brighton High senior who loves movies, videos and doing all the typical teenager activities.

She also has the genetic condition, DiGeorge syndrome, that can have multiple symptoms such as developmental delays and congenital heart problems. 

Haley and Brighton High student body president Sydney Ashment are friends.

“I grew up with Haley,” she said. “My sister and her sister are the same age and are friends, so I would just tag along and hang out with Haley. Ever since I was little, I’ve been close with Haley and her family. She’s had over 30 surgeries, including three or four open heart surgeries. She’s really tough.”

The two may play “Just Dance,” eat at McDonald’s for lunch, make cookies or go to the aquarium.

“We always have fun hanging out,” the student leader said.

When Ashment and other student body officers decided their annual fundraiser would be to help Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ashment was delighted when the Foundation matched the school with Haley.

“This has been really special. She said that she’s never had this much fun at school and her mom said it’s the most involved she’s been at school. Besides her wish being granted, this has been life changing for her,” Ashment said.

She said Haley’s family had to convince her friend to accept the match because “she’s pretty shy.”

“When she said yes, I was super excited, but it’s kind of hard seeing a friend in those terms that they need a wish. It’s been great having her more involved and showing Haley her school loves her,” Ashment said.

As of press deadline, Brighton raised more than $35,000, enough to grant Haley her wish—a family trip to Disney World. Ashment said they were told wishes typically cost about $5,000, so Make-A-Wish will be able to grant several children wishes from their fundraising.

“It’s super cool to not only help someone with their wish, but really special to help a friend,” she said.  

Ashment got involved as a student leader on the advice of her older sister and ran for a freshman class position. Every year, she has been involved in student government. 

“I just fell in love with putting in that extra effort to make the high school experience better for everyone and making a difference in students’ lives,” Ashment said.

That includes the fundraiser that had an online and in-person silent auction held on the track above the student-faculty basketball game. The auction featured close to 100 baskets with items from Cuisinart and Minky Couture blankets to tickets to Hale Centre Theatre, Utah Jazz and ski resorts as well as a few nights’ stay in a St. George condominium.

“We asked people we knew who owned businesses as well as went around door-to-door to different businesses to see if they had items that they could donate or contribute a monetary donation. With those, we put together baskets. So, for example, I was getting my hair done and asked the hairdresser. She said she’d love to donate and threw in a cut and color,” she said.

The basketball game drew 20 students who challenged the faculty.  

Who won?

“That may be up for interpretation,” said student body officers’ adviser, Jeff Tree. “There was some interesting clock management by the students. Ultimately, I’ll go with Make-A-Wish.”

Tree said the Dec. 12 activities were a good kickoff for the fundraiser that ended Jan. 19.

“We got off to a pretty good start of $14,000,” he said.

Another $17,000 was added from the 29 student leaders who were able to get business sponsorships and donations, Tree said.

Several businesses and restaurants also held community spirit nights where proceeds were earmarked for the fundraiser. 

The student body was involved in contributing to the fundraiser through participating in various activities such as Stumble Guys and Super Smash Bros tournaments or buying Brighton Wish shirts, hot chocolate and paper Wish stars, which were mounted on the walls with their names on it. Students also held a school dance; the $10 ticket sales went to Make-A-Wish.

In other recent fundraisers, Brighton has helped nonprofit organizations such as the Tyler Robinson Foundation, Utah Refugee Center and Millie’s Princess Foundation.  

“We do this to carry on the tradition of giving to people in the community. One of the goals of student government is to teach the members to be active members of their community,” he said. “There’s not a better way to learn that than by going out and trying to get people to follow you and supporting what they believe in—in a good cause.”