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Draper Journal

Corner Canyon High students’ actions help childhood cancer patients, families

Mar 07, 2023 04:02PM ● By Julie Slama

Corner Canyon High students raised funds to help for NixonStrong Foundation that supports families of children with cancer. (Photo courtesy of Corner Canyon High)

Corn hole, badminton, chess, Mario Kart, Game Pigeon, ping pong, Smash Bros. and other tournaments were held on Corner Canyon High School’s campus leading up to the Chargers’ December assembly, where students announced they had raised more than $64,600 for NixonStrong Foundation.

NixonStrong is a nonprofit foundation that financially supports families of children with cancer and is based in South Jordan.

“We do everything possible that we can to raise as much for the charity the students choose,” said Case Spaulding, one of the student body officers’ three advisers. “We go all in and involve the whole school.”

While about 30 student leaders may plan and organize some events, but often times, other clubs and teams hold activities as well and contribute additional proceeds to the fundraiser, he said.

For example, clubs, such as the drama club holds the “Broadway Backwards” show where students perform songs that are atypical, and classes, such as foods and choir, often do activities to contribute.

Many students participate in asking neighbors if they have odd jobs and after completing them, the neighbors donate money toward NixonStrong.

“It’s our biggest moneymaker and often, people may not have a job, but they will just donate,” Spaulding said. “With this fundraiser, I like that kids can help others and give to others. A lot of times kids just see their own world and not see others around them. It’s a good lesson for them to say, ‘let’s do something nice for other people’ and to look outside of themselves to help others who are less fortunate.”

Student body officers’ adviser Jana White said students knock on neighbors’ doors in groups.

“Our student leaders get bunches of students, some in clubs or teams, some who just show up and want to help, and we know if our kids don’t have money, they can give time,” she said. “In the end, these kids get to know each other better and often, those are the kids you see really invested and excited for how much money was raised because they bought in and feel good about doing something for somebody else.”

Spaulding said that most everyone at Corner Canyon participates in some way.

“Pretty close to the whole school gets involved one way or another. We hold a dance and 100% of the proceeds from that dance go to the charity,” he said. “Dancing with the Chargers is big, too. Some of the girls on Dance Company pick athletes and they teach them a dance. We did a virtual this year so that the students could share their videos with people.”

There was also a paint night, a trivia night and a charity auction that involved many in the Charger community. 

Staff and faculty supported the fundraiser. One teacher sold hot chocolate in the mornings and funds went to NixonStrong. Cinnamon rolls are another morning favorite with proceeds earmarked for the fundraiser.

Local businesses also step up and support the fundraiser, donating portions of their proceeds from spirit nights.

The fundraiser was kicked off with an assembly, where students could donate loose change and support different activities. There was a buy-out assembly, where students could purchase tickets for a mentalist, and those sales were for the fundraiser.

“It’s one of our bigger events. The kids are able to buy tickets to attend a show and get excused from their first period class of that day. They like watching him do mind tricks on people,” Spaulding said. “Dodgeball is another big one and the student team that beats the others plays the teachers. Usually the teachers win, but this year, it was the students. There’s also a three-on-three student versus faculty basketball game and it was evenly matched.”

The tradition of holding a winter fundraiser began when Corner Canyon opened 10 years ago. Students chose to help Head Start preschool program and raised $10,000 and White said they “were ecstatic.” The next year, they raised about $50,000 for Primary Children’s Hospital.  Through the years, students helped Tyler Robinson Foundation, Make-A-Wish, the Refugee and Immigrant Center Asian Association of Utah and others.

“We get quite a few requests, but the students decide which one in May and start planning for it then,” White said. “We try and pick ones that have the least amount of overhead and that directly affect our community. The kids get into it when they can see a recipient; it makes a big difference. They put in a lot of work, planning and sacrificing to help and at the same time, keep their grades up and their schedules up. They do all this hard work usually for people they don’t even know, but they can see the difference they can make for somebody. They’re so happy at what they’re able to give, they have tears of joy at the end.”

Spaulding said that through NixonStrong, Corner Canyon students helped several families, including one that lives in Draper, whose kids attend the same high school.

“We liked that we’re helping locally, and that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the families who are being affected by whatever illness the child in that family might have,” he said. “We’re grateful for our community wanting to support us as we’re trying to help them.”

In addition to their annual winter fundraiser, student leaders also perform service at Tiny Tim Foundation for Kids, a nonprofit that has made toy wooden cars for more than 20 years, sharing them with 1 million children worldwide.

“We start our year helping them, painting faces on the cars and helping get them ready to send to children all over the world,” Spaulding said. 

That is followed by hosting a Veterans Day dinner for local veterans and inviting them to a Charger football game.