Kelly Tyler’s next sacrifice in the name of helping children: Duct taping herself to a wall for cash.
“I may not be happy, but I’m going to do it with a – smile on my face?” Tyler says to a roomful of giggling children.
This stunt – selling pieces of duct tape to temporarily entrap Tyler on a wall – is just the latest quirky fundraiser dreamed up by her middle school leadership class at Sundale Elementary School to support Valley Children’s Hospital.
It’s not too far-fetched, given that Tyler and other teachers at the rural Tulare school have turned themselves into ice cream sundaes, kissed goats and sported pink tutus and green mohawks, all in the name of inspiring students from kindergarten to eighth grade to raise money for the Madera County hospital.
Other Sundale fundraisers for Valley Children’s: Jump rope contests, movie nights, middle school dances, rummage sales, bake sales, collecting spare change and selling Valentine’s Day balloons and around 64 dozen cookies every week. The children know that every dollar counts.
It’s just the greatness in all of us that really want to help other people
Abby Thomas, age 12, about raising money for Valley Children’s
Money raised from these fundraisers, paired with selling Kids Day newspapers, has added up to $143,000 – a sum that grew from $3,000 raised 12 years ago from presale Kids Day papers and change jars in classrooms.
Sundale has been Valley Children’s top fundraising school, aside from college teams, for several years – raising around $29,000 last year alone.
Sundale is among more than 150 school teams to raise money for Kids Day. Other top fundraising school teams last year: Fugman Elementary School (raising over $7,000); Fresno State’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the university level (over $7,600); and Reedley College at the community college level (over $8,100).
Sundale’s fundraising season is in full swing from Christmas through March. Tyler’s leadership class makes it possible.
“Twenty middle school kids every year give their all – give their heart, their soul, their time and everything to ignite a fire in 800 kids,” Tyler said. “It’s just amazing, and it’s something that goes with them.”
The secret to their success: “Kindness,” said 12-year-old Abby Thomas.
“We’re just a big family, basically, and we all just help each other out,” Abby said. “We all have the biggest hearts in here and all of us know that whatever we’re doing – even if we’re just giving a dollar a day to this cause – that it’s going to change someone’s life.”
If everyone gives one dollar, we can do incredible things.
Molly Marquez, annual development manager for Valley Children’s Foundation Department
Many of the students continue fundraising outside of school.
Abby’s motivation, like many others at Sundale, is also personal. Abby had a surgery at Valley Children’s for a stomach infection. Despite the scare of that illness, she has fond memories of those who cared for her at the hospital: “They were some of the nicest people.”
Number of children within Valley Children’s service area
Six-year-old Madison Verkaik of Sundale is a Valley Children’s poster child this year. Madison said she got her “heart fixed” at the hospital: An open-heart surgery to address a rare congenital heart defect.
And Tyler, the ringleader of Sundale’s Kids Day efforts, has a daughter who was treated at the hospital for pulmonary issues. Tyler’s efforts also honor a teacher’s aide who died, Glenna Haley, who previously led Kids Day fundraising at the school.
A lot of our families and staff have utilized Valley Children’s. They have done great things for our families, so it’s one way we are able to give back to them.
Cindy Gist, principal of Sundale Elementary School
Abby Garcia, 13, said tearfully that helping with Kids Day has also helped her “become a very caring person.”
That compassion is helping save lives.
Kayden Miller, 14, agrees.
“I think that’s why we raise so much money here, because it’s all about a family,” Kayden says. “I think a lot of people have a helping heart and a servant’s heart to want to help kids and keep them safe and provide the best care for them.”
How to help
Make a donation to Kid’s Day at www.valleychildrens.org/kidsday.