BES raises over $7,000 for children’s hospital in memory of former student

March 23, 2019 | 3:30 am

Updated March 23, 2019 | 9:12 am

Friday afternoon ended with the much-anticipated reveal of the total amount raised for the BES Norton Children's Be a Champion event -- $7, 352.16. | Photo by Daniel Benedict

The Burns Elementary School gym was filled with 111 first- through fifth-grade students, along with staff and family members, Friday after school. Even though they did enjoy pizza and treats and a student versus staff basketball game, they were not there for a pep rally or for a rewards celebration. Instead, the BES family remembered one of its own with the first annual “Be a Champion” event to benefit Norton Children’s Hospital.

Photo By Daniel Benedict

“We have done charity events in the past few years,” said Larkin Wetzel, the coordinator of the BES Be a Champion event. “We always try to find things at Burns that are meaningful to our kids. We try to find things our kids could relate to. We have had many students in the past who have gone to Norton.”

Although Norton has touched the lives of many BES students, there was one student, and family, in particular, that was on everyone’s mind Friday, and while fundraising — former student Brookelynne Shannon.

Brookelynne was an eighth-grader at Burns Middle School who began feeling ill on Dec. 26, 2017. After being transported to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, and later being placed on life support, Brookelynne died on Jan. 15, 2018, from what were believed to be complications from the flu.

When Wetzel was looking for a more meaningful activity for the students this year she came upon the Norton’s Champion for Kids program. After doing a little research and contacting the hospital, it seemed like the perfect match for BES, and a fitting way to pay tribute to Brookelynne. According to Norton’s website, the Champions for Kids program allows community members to host fundraisers that benefit the lifesaving care of Norton Children’s Hospital.

“Many of our families have been impacted by Norton,” Wetzel said, adding that, after seeing the response from BES families and local community, “It’s become much bigger than we ever anticipated.”

In a true community effort, money has been raised through multiple school events including a $10 donation to attend the after-school activities and receive a Be a Champion T-shirt, technology and pajama days for students and a coin drive.  

Preschool students also participated in a Trike-a-thon, while kindergarteners took part in a Fun Run. Teachers have also donated to the cause through food days and other school-wide initiatives.

Photo By Daniel Benedict

Friday, the students walked through colorful school-colored streamers under a sign that mirrored the colors of the Norton Children’s Hospital hot air balloon on their way to play games and activities, and complete service projects for the children at Norton. While the events were intended for enjoyment, it was important to Wetzel and the BES staff that students realize the importance of participating in something beyond themselves.

“We want to make sure our students know they are raising money for a bigger cause, which could directly benefit their peers,” Wetzel said. “Our students have such big hearts and want to share that with the kids at the hospital.”

The hearts of the children and the community shown through as stories were shared by BES families and students about the impact Norton had upon them. The afternoon ended with the much-anticipated reveal of the total amount raised for the BES Be a Champion event — $7, 352.16.

Brookelynne’s sister Soleil and mom, Jamie | Photo By Daniel Benedict

As each student held their card up proudly, in a bittersweet moment, BrookeLynne’s sister Soleil, a fifth-grader at BES, revealed the number seven, for the final amount raised. Afterward, Soleil and her mother Jamie held the giant check written out to Norton, with a memo line of, “In memory of Brookelynne Shannon.”

“We can’t help their situation, but we are donating the money this year to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) by request of Brookelynne’s mom,” Wetzel said. “We never want to forget her, she was a wonderful student here at Burns and we’re glad we can do that for them.”

March 23, 2019 | 3:30 am

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