MEDFORD, Ore. — Sparrow Clubs around southern Oregon are starting to wrap up as the school year comes to a close. Today was the final Sparrow assembly for Kennedy Elementary School where, just four months ago, students started participating in community service to raise support for their Sparrow, Everly.
It all started with two 6th grade students, Maritza Villas and Betzy Ordonez, wanted to have their school sponsor a Sparrow. With the school year already half over, they called up Matt Sampson, Sparrow Club’s National Program Director, and asked if they could get started.
Now, four months later, Kennedy Elementary not only reached their service hour goal of 256 hours, they doubled that and did a separate penny drive to donate items to their Sparrow.
“It makes me think of all the good things that you can do in your life,” said Villa, when asked what it was like to see their success.
Ordonez explained why she even pushed to bring Sparrow Clubs to their school in the first place: “I want them to have a life like I have. I want them to have fun and not be worried about their healthiness.”
“It’s been a really life-changing experience,” said Kevin Turner, Everly’s dad. “This last year has been hard for us. We’ve been through a lot in a short amount of time and so it’s nice to see all these kids come together and help this little girl.”
Everly suffers from a rare disease called Cystinosis. Only 500 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the metabolic disease.
“Her body doesn’t process or rid her cells of cystine,” explained Everly’s mom, Haven Combs. “It affects literally every organ in her body. She also is in kidney failure, that’s a part of the disease.”
Everly is only 20 months old. She was diagnosed at 9 months. Combs says they spent the majority of the summer at Doernbecher in Portland.
“She was diagnosed at nine months with ‘failure to thrive’ she eats and eats and eats but she wasn’t gaining any weight. She got really backed up in her digestive system and that’s initially what we went in for,” said Combs. “Then they did x-rays and bloodwork and it was all very mysterious.”
Kennedy Elementary partnered with Banner Bank and Grants Pass Active Club and today they awarded Everly with $2,650.00.
“All that money is going to go towards Everly and all of her expenses in life,” said Turner.
Sparrow Clubs is an education charity with a mission to encourage heroic acts of kindness in schools and youth by partnering a school with a child in medical need. A sponsor funds a Sparrow Club at a local school, each club gets matched up with a Sparrow (a child in medical need). Students then volunteer in their community to earn funds for their Sparrow. Sparrows then receive the funds raised to go towards their medical expenses.