Fundraiser supports local teacher

Leah Beyer, Blue M Academics Editor

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Every day is a new chance to make a difference in the community. For sisters MaKenna, senior, and Hailey Eilert, sophomore, this means hosting a fundraiser to help a teacher who is battling mast cell disease.

Laura Heyd is a teacher at Amanda Arnold elementary whose symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, body swelling and much more make it difficult for her to continue doing the thing she loves: teaching. In order to seek medical assistance in a wide variety of places, Heyd must pay for much of it out of her pocket, meaning she is also in need of financial assistance.

“The fundraiser was to raise money for Laura’s medical expenses,” Hailey said. “We wanted to help relieve some of that hardship.”

Both girls have extremely close connections with Heyd, as she taught them throughout the years while they were growing up.

“Laura Heyd is one of the kindest, sweetest women I have ever met,” MaKenna said. “She is a first grade teacher at Amanda Arnold Elementary and puts so much time and energy into making each and everyday full of fun and learning for them. She is very good at hiding how sick she is feeling, as most of the symptoms aren’t outwardly shown.”

In order to help, the Eilert sisters hosted a talent show called “Hope for Heyd” at the City Auditorium with the hopes of being able to make her medical care more attainable.

In order to come up with the ideas to do the fundraiser, the pair was inspired from other students in different schools.

“I was actually inspired by a senior at Rock Creek. She did an event with a talent show concept and I thought it was really cool,” Hailey said. “I took her idea and ran with it.”

The two also used their family connections to their advantage.

“My mom is… very caring and wanted to find a way to help Laura,” Hailey said. “I brainstormed with my mom how we could accomplish raising money on a larger scale which is when the concept of a fundraiser really came to light.”

The sisters haven’t just been helping Heyd fund for  her medical expenses either. Both go to her classroom and assist in the daily work she does to ensure a quality learning environment.

“Throughout this school year, I have been helping her grade papers and organize her classroom about once a week after school,” MaKenna said. “I also take care of her service dog, Ranger, when she has to go out of town for doctors visits.”

Both Eilerts have also relied on the help of other student volunteers that don’t include themselves.

“While MaKenna and I picked up food donations, my mom, Parker Wilson and other volunteers setup tables, chairs and the sound system at the location,” Hailey said. “We split up into groups for completing small objectives which I think made things a little smoother.

Throughout the night, there were numerous and groups who contributed in their own special way to the fundraising goal, n front of the crowd, including several students from Amanda Arnold and the band 5% Milk.

“The best part of the night was definitely getting to see and enjoy the great talent from all over Manhattan and the surrounding cities,” MaKenna said. “We had amazing individuals and a few groups show off their talent.”

Despite the night’s success, the two did run into a few minor setbacks. Planning a major event with so little experience caused for some small issues to become apparent.

“Since this was our first fundraiser, things didn’t go as smoothly as we would have hoped. The fundraiser started a little later than we wanted so that stressed everyone out quite a bit,” MaKenna said. “Once everyone started showing up though we realized that no one was expecting this event to be perfect and they were just here to enjoy themselves while supporting Laura.”

As the night went on, spectators voted for their favorite group by purchasing one dollar tickets and placing them in cups belonging to that group. Of the nine acts, fourth grader Jiyeon from Amanda Arnold placed third, junior Allie Jensen from Rock Creek placed second and sixth graders Rebeckah Borthwick and Paige Habbart from Amanda Arnold won first place.

Although there were some difficulties faced at setup, the Hope for Heyd crew pushed through and was able to hold a fundraiser that made a difference in Laura Heyd’s life.

“I think the fundraiser was successful, we raised over $2500, with more donations coming in from Go Fund Me which is unbelievable,” Hailey said. “We had a lot of community members come and show their support which I think meant a lot to Laura.”

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Fundraiser supports local teacher