School changes lives through ‘Make A Wish’

Since Salem Hills High School opened during the 2008-2009 school year, it began an association with Make-A-Wish Utah. 

Chad VanLeuven, a Social Science teacher at the school, explains, “the school was looking to partner with a charity that we could raise money for, and their goals and ours aligned.” 

Each year, the school helps grant the wishes of children and families in need. 

So far, the school has directly helped grant 13 wishes. 

The Student Council at SHHS usually organizes the events for each Make-A-Wish week, but the entire SHHS student body and faculty also get involved. They help with things throughout the week, donate money, and attend the Salem Hills Make-A-Wish events. 

VanLeuven explains that the Salem Hills Make-A-Wish program offers a unique advantage to the Student Council at SHHS. They not only get the honor of helping a child in need, but they also get to spend a week with that child. 

“It’s awesome being able to meet the child and their family that we are helping. It makes it much more personable,” VanLeuven says.

The most recent recipient of the Make-A-Wish funds is Aubrie. She is a 10-year-old girl with a genetic nervous system disorder that causes tumor growth on her face. Her wish was to go on a shopping spree and get new shoes, boots, and clothes. 

She also wanted to use her wish to purchase toys for children going through similar experiences as her in the hospital. Thanks to the efforts of students and faculty at Salem Hills High School, more than $18,000 was raised to help Aubrie receive her wish. 

Nicole Burk, a two-year member of the Student Council at SHHS and next year’s Student Body President, explained, “Every year at Salem Hills, Make-A-Wish is a huge deal. Our school really gets into it and it is a blast. … It’s a week of coming to school early, staying late, and maintaining full school spirit at all times. It’s hard, but so worth it. The way that the student body and community come together to grant a sick child’s wish is incredible. Personally, I see a lot of division in the world around us, but this is one week where everyone is fighting for the same thing.” 

Braydon Adamson, this year’s Student Body President at SHHS said, “Make-A-Wish Week changes you. … Make-A-Wish Week has taught me a great deal … I’ve learned that all it takes is a few people to start something big. All it takes is a few people to change the world, and I have seen this throughout Make-A-Wish Week. … I have learned so much about life just by listening to our Make-A-Wish kids. Each one of them has the will of a lion. 

“They’ve taught me that we don’t give up when times get heard. In fact, it is only then when we can change the world.” 

Megan Mayo, VP of Community Service at SHHS, had this to say about her Make-A-Wish involvement: 

“I wanted to be super involved with Make-A-Wish Week because I wanted a close enough relationship with the wish kid that they might consider me a friend. I often went to Aubrie’s house for spa nights … game nights, or photo shoots. … She’s such a light in my life because she has a gift to make everyone feel loved. Even though she’s been through a lot, she keeps a smile on her face.” 

These students and everyone involved with the Make-A-Wish program illustrate how much good you can do when you put your mind and heart into it. As Megan Mayo so stated, “When you’re looking out for others and putting their desires first, it changes you and helps you for the better.” (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor.)

Shellie Peterson
Shellie Peterson
Shellie Peterson is a mom, wife and freelance writer. She currently lives in Santaquin with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read, write and spend as much time as possible camping.

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