North Students Rally for Their Classmate

Seventh-graders in Ryan Anderson's class are joining a community-wide effort to raise money for classmate Dylan Smith.

Throughout the annals of human history certain pairings are undisputedly matched with certain symmetry. Peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter and salt and pepper are just a few of these eternal pairings in our culture.

Seventh-grade students at may have discovered their own pairing that could stand the test of time. Ryan Anderson’s students have merged the school’s anti-bullying message with a fundraising campaign to help a fellow student in need.

Dylan Smith is a young man who’s battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which weakens his muscular system and hampers his mobility. As a result, he uses a mechanical wheelchair to get around. However, he is quickly outgrowing his current chair and is in need of a new one. However, an upgraded chair comes with a price tag of $10,000, which is a price Dylan’s family is having difficulty working into the budget.

“I was really shocked that it was that much, and I felt bad that they were short on the money to get it, so I knew someone had to do something to help,” said classmate Austin Lasanske, who was the brains behind his class’ initiative.

Anderson challenged his class to do something unique to promote the school’s anti-bullying message but also help Dylan. One idea, which may still be a winner, was paying $1 to throw a pie in the face of a teacher. However, Lasanske thought it would be effective to design t-shirts with an anti-bullying message, sell them, and use the profits to help Dylan.

It was an idea the rest of the class, and now school, is rallying behind.

“I hope the idea raises enough money,” Lasanske said. “It feels good to have people like your idea, and help Dylan.”

Lasanske and his classmates are now selling bright yellow t-shirts with the slogan “Stand Up For What’s Right Even If You’re Standing Alone.” Each t-shirt costs $10, and students in Anderson’s class plan to sell five apiece. However, the trend is catching at North and they will likely eclipse their goal by a large margin.

“I think that most people are nice and want to help, but they are even nicer when they can see the person who directly benefits from their efforts,” Anderson said. “The kids see Dylan everyday in the hall, and they want to help him.”

While Lasanske generated the idea, his classmate Margaret Shea designed the shirt and the message. She borrowed from other anti-bullying posters around the school and added a bit of her own literary talent to pen the powerful message.

“The quote spoke to me, and it was one we could all rally behind,” Shea said. “I’m really excited about it, and I’m happy I can help him in any way.”

The profundity of Shea’s message wasn’t lost on Anderson, who said he’s been very impressed by the eagerness his students showed to help Dylan.

“It’s such a powerful message. A lot of people don’t give 13-year-olds a lot of credit, but they are incredible,” Anderson said. “I’m glad the kids have embraced it. They are all in support of it, and it’s a great combo message and a life long message.”

However, the students aren’t the only ones rallying for Dylan. The community as a whole has recognized the financial need for Dylan and his family. In addition to Dylan’s wheelchair, the family also needs to purchase a new vehicle and upgrade their home to accommodate him.

A benefit for the Smith family will occur from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Quilted Bear in Germantown. The tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets are available after Jan. 25 from any Menomonee Falls High School Student Council member, at the Quilted Bear, or by emailing your number of reservations to esmith1680@wi.rr.com.

For more information, or to make an online donation, visit the Smith Family Benefit Fund online. To order a shirt from the students, send an email to Anderson.

Pat Mitchell January 24, 2012 at 12:15 AM
What wonderful people the next generation are becoming. Well done!!
jerry mislang January 24, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Ryan Anderson and his students are another reason we can be proud to say we live in Menomonee Falls. Great work everyone, keep it up!
DonnaVilkoski January 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Good luck on the sales, and what a wonderful thing you are doing. Everyone involved should be PROUD of themselves.


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