Meet Gabby, Vista’s 2018 Wish Kid Read more about Vista’s journey with Make-A-Wish and Gabby’s wish to help others
Mountain Vista High School | 10585 Mountain Vista Ridge, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
Vol. 17 Issue 3 2.2.2018
$30 / 2018 Wish Kit: blue BAGP shirt activity wristband
$50 / 2018 Wish Kit: blue BAGP shirt activity wristband Love Your Melon hat Wish Week stickers
Mountain Vista Media chose to dedicate an all-inclusive Eagle Eye magazine to the past and upcoming Wish Weeks
THE INTRODUCTORY PACKAGE FOR VISTA FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
PRIVATE TRAININGS FOR INDIVIDUAL OR SMALL GROUPS
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT COACH WAGS AT
WAGS@ COACHWAGS.COM 720-336 WAGS(9247)
5690 E. COUNTY LINE PLACE UNIT C, HR 80126
Dress-up theme: Black BAGP Shirts
Dress-up theme: Iconic Duo/Celebrity Day
Activities: Opening Assembly after 3rd Period in main gym Unified Basketball game @ 7 p.m. in main gym
Activities: Wish Walk @ 8:30 a.m. Girls Basketball game @ 7 p.m. at ThunderRidge
Fundraisers: Lunch @ Dickey’s BBQ Dinner @ Buffalo Wild Wings
Fundraisers: Lunch @ Which Wich Dinner @ Costa Vida Dessert @ Cold Stone
Dress-up theme: Rockstar Day
Dress-up theme: New Blue BAGP Shirts
Activities: Vista Idol @ 7 p.m. at Mission Hills Church
Activities: Closing Assembly after 3rd Period in main gym Boys Basketball game vs. ThunderRidge @ 7 p.m. in main gym
Fundraisers: Lunch @ Chick-fil-A (University) Dinner @ Nicholos Dessert @ Dairy Queen
Fundraisers: Lunch @ Five Guys (University) Dinner @ MOD Pizza
Dress-up theme: Pajama Day
Activities: Hockey game vs. Regis Jesuit @ 8:25 p.m. at South Suburban Ice Arena
Wednesday Activities: Ruff ‘n’ Tuff @ 6:30 p.m. in main gym Fundraisers: Breakfast @ Tamale Kitchen Lunch @ Raising Cane’s Dinner @ Chipotle
Fundraisers: Jump Street, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Lunch @ California Pizza Kitchen
Wish Week 2018
Find out about the events in your 2018 Wish Week.
Dive deeper with the people who make Wish Week infamous.
Learn about the best movies, songs and concerts and events for 2017.
Get ready with the Woods and the varsity basketball players as they gear up for the biggest game of the season.
Learn more about Gabby’s diagnosis, family life and interests.
savanah howard lauren irwin gabe barnard haley kolseth charlie penvari bronwen cartwright greyson koinzan lauren lippert drew stahl lauren cowie georgia lane helen chen addisyn hartman alex simpson julia kirsch max hutto lizzie brenneman chloe yets ryan karsten sarah hensler carly ems jessica lauck shayan zarrin harper boggs hannah corbet-thiele brendan elkins caitlin english mindy herrod
mikayla olave michael place erica venable emily kinney lexi riga erin solomon anne gerringer ben yoshida
hannah mcclain hannah lovell victoria coffman molly phelan sarah o’sullivan tj coder jackson braun taryn glentzer madison paul tiara tambunan audrey brown tess harbert amanda gross brendan o’keeffe caileigh wenner jeremy lundberg dylan kane audrey lyp paige gerling
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I S Wish Week is a tradition that leaves a lasting impact on Vista every year. Each Wish Kid has had his or her own unique manner of inspiring the school to make a difference for each of them and other ill kids. MV Media wanted to explore the history and meaning of the past three Wish Weeks, as well as share the stories of those who have had a special connection to the Wish Kids.
photos by savanah howard, amy huang and conner davis
The fun-loving four year old took Vista by storm with his contagious smile. His wish to go to Walt Disney World and meet Mickey Mouse was easily achieved as the community poured in $64,000. This marked a turning point for Wish Week â€” and redefined the meaning of giving back.
Marlee inspired Vista with her brigtht smile and positive attitude, but most of all her selfless wish. She wanted to use the money raised by the school to create Build-A-Bears for other children who shared her struggle. Due to the previous yearâ€™s total, the Be A Good Person brand sponsored the week.
//Brian Wood and Kenyan//
In 2017, the school adopted a superhero, Kenyan, for Wish Week. Villains captured the principal and held the school hostage, but Super K was there to rescue students from the clutches of the tricksters, with is sidekick Brian Wood there to help him. Vista raised a monumental sum of money to support Kenyan.
Junior Maya Winslow not only participates in Wish Week by helping to plan out events and dress-up days, she also works closely with the Make-A-Wish-Foundation. Because Winslow is a Junior-Wish-Ambasador she works closely with Wish Kids, helping to grant their wishes.
marlee by bronwen carwright
Marlee Pack developed a passion for soccer at a young age. When Shelly Pack noticed a bump on her daughter’s left foot, she initially assumed it must be a soccer-related injury. A month passed and the lump persisted. The mom in Shelly knew it was time to see a specialist. In April 2015, eight-year-old Marlee, a Colorado native, was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (Rhabdo or ARMS), a softtissue cancer. Although amputation was used on her kicking foot to prevent the spread of the cancer, Marlee put her best (prosthetic) foot forward and returned to her favorite sport. Female athletes with prosthetic limbs became her inspiration. Her bravery is conveyed in her beautiful ear-to-ear grin. The lessons she learned at a young age left Marlee incredibly empathetic. Charisma and kindness made her a perfect candidate for Vista’s 2016 Wish Kid. When the Make-A-Wish foundation approached her, she pondered endless possible wishes. Rather than wishing for a trip to the Galapagos Islands or the San Diego Zoo, she generously shared her wish with other kids in her position. Marlee recalled the toll round after round of chemotherapy took on her health and emotions. She decided her wish would be to give Build-a-Bears to young cancer patients, hoping to lift their spirits. Marlee delivered over 100 Build-a-Bears stuffed with love and positivity to kids battling cancer at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. When she came to Vista she also received a jersey signed by Mallory Pugh, an Olympic soccer player and former Vista student. For a little girl with a love of soccer, this was an outstanding experience. When she returned to school following her trip to Vista, Marlee found her Meridian Elementary School community also were willing to give. Inspired by her generosity and newly bald head, 80 of Marlee’s teachers, classmates and their parents, selflessly shaved their heads on March 16, 2016. Collectively, the school raised $25,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a child cancer research foundation. The non-profit encourages people to donate money and shave their heads to show support for their research programs. Since Marlee’s Wish Week, her cancer has returned twice. The first instance the threat was
eliminated quickly. The second recurrence has not been so forgiving. On Oct. 7, 2017 a new cluster of cancerous cells was discovered. From this point the ever-courageous Marlee was scheduled to undergo 30 consecutive weeks of chemotherapy. Stacie Winslow of the Colorado Make-A-Wish Foundation keeps close contact with the Pack family. “Marlee has not gone six months without a clear scan. She’ll finish treatment, be declared cancer free and then each time, the cancer has come back,” Winslow said. “When kids get Rhabdo, it’s typically more aggressive, and when it comes back it’s stronger each time. They treated her last time with the really heavy chemo they call ‘Red Devil’. She can never have that chemo again in her life because it’s hard on the heart. So, in addition to therapy, she had to have checks on her heart.” Devastated, her family moved to Texas to be close to the best treatment center and highly specialized doctors for ARMS cancer. Although she was in a new
Marlee admires her Vista themed Build-ABear, a gift from the student body.
place full of unfamiliar faces, Marlee quickly touched the hearts of her classmates at Sienna Crossing Elementary School in Missouri City, Texas. On the way to a routine doctor’s appointment Marlee’s mom took a detour in front of her school. Students, teachers, and staff brandished posters with positive messages, greeting her with a ‘Wishing You Well’ Parade. Junior Maya Winslow is particularly close to Marlee. “The battle she is currently fighting is a tough one to be honest,” Maya said. “As of right now, all we can do is call on our strength and send it her way. She has had a really rough go of it lately so I hope the school can rally around her.”
hush fell over the gym. All eyes looked to the training room door as a mother and father carried out their four-yearold son to meet their wish granters. Instead of thundering claps, soft whistles filled the gym. This was the moment the student body met Asher, a small boy suffering from hydrocephalus, epilepsy and septo-optic dysplasia. This means that his brain failed to develop correctly and he was unable to form optic nerves, leaving him without eyes. The gym remained quiet as to not scare Asher, but the excitement in the air was palpable. Everyone in the room was hoping to grant his wish, to visit Walt Disney World. “I’ll never forget that moment in the assembly when we couldn’t clap because it was too loud [so] everyone whistled,” student leadership sponsor Lindsay Jaffe said. “Just those little, weird moments made it different than any other year we had before.” Asher’s quiet, shy demeanor and love for Mickey Mouse captured the hearts of the student body, especially that of senior, Janey Galligan.
“Asher was such a cool kid. He was so sweet and teeny tiny,” Galligan said. “I remember his mom sobbing at the assembly. It was amazing to feel like we were making a difference for this family.” Three years later Asher’s mother, Amy Engelbart, remembers Wish Week with gushing gratitude. “From the moment we walked into [Vista], we could feel the love,” Engelbart said. “All the things you did, from the shirts to the ribbons being purple and white, which symbolize both of Asher’s main issues, to having the students whistle instead of clap. That was amazing. He still sleeps with his giant Mickey you all gave him.” Asher’s week marked a turning
asher by savanah howard
point for the way people looked at the event. The community poured in five times the amount from the previous year, reaching a grand total of $64,000. “That was the first large-scale Wish Week that we had,” Jaffe said. “I think overall as a school that was the first time we came together and understood the purpose of what Wish Week was and the impact it could have.” With the money raised, Asher and his family were able to take their trip to Disney World. The leftover money was given to Make-A-Wish to grant more wishes for other kids. “Asher’s wish to go to Disney World was nothing short of amazing. We have never seen Asher laugh and smile so much. He loved meeting Mickey and riding all of the rides,” Engelbart said. “We opened the park up and closed it down all the days we were there. It was an incredible experience for the whole family. We honestly don’t go more than a month or so without talking about how amazing it was.” Much of the fundraising success can be attributed to the introduction of wristbands to ease the total cost of the week. The wristbands allowed students to purchase their way into all events at one time rather than paying a seperate fee each day. “I think that really made a huge difference because it allowed kids to not feel like they were nickled and dimed every time they went somewhere,” Jaffe said. “They could just show up and be involved.” Being the first Wish Week for the Class of 2018, many people believe that this particular class was an important part in growing the event. “I think it was definitely the start of something huge,” Galligan said. “It’s all [the Class of 2018 has] known to be super excited about it and look forward to. Our class cares so much about Wish Week and all that we can do for those Make-A-Wish kids.” Today, Asher is in second grade and loves his two brothers. “Asher is a fun-loving, little seven-year-old, who unfortunately is in the hospital at the current moment,” Engelbart said. “Mickey and whistling are still his favorite, along with the movie ‘Frozen.’” Thanks to the quiet little boy who stole the hearts of the Class of 2018, Wish Week has continued to grow one year after another.
Asher’s father whistles along with the student body as they welcome the 2015 Wish Kid.
photo by conner davis story by gabe barnard
Brian Wood holds Kenyan during the final assembly of Wish Week 2017.
UPER K SAVES THE DAY
f there is one word that math teacher Brian Wood would use to describe his emotions in the photo above, it would be excitement. This moment came after Vista’s 2017 Wish Kid, Kenyan, took on his secret-superhero identity of Super K and defeated villains who had attempted to control the school. “I was trying to get him to not be so nervous in front of everybody and show his muscles,” Wood said. In order to grant Kenyan’s wish, to be a superhero, performing arts students donned villainous garb and put on a production. Principal Mike Weaver was taken hostage by Vista graduates Amelia Amicarella and Mark Twal as well as junior Nate Cushing and senior Val Urquhart. The gang proceeded to take over
the school and leave it in dire straits that only a true hero could overcome. “I loved showing a sword fight to the whole school and actually being a part of Wish Week for Kenyan,” Urquhart said. “Making [his wish] come true is an experience I will never forget.” It was then that Kenyan revealed his secret and used his powers to save the school at the closing assembly, which was complete with fog machines, spotlights and other special effects. The school celebrated Super K’s victory and he spent the remainder of the day traveling throughout Vista as well as Mountain Ridge Middle School with Wood and an entourage of student leadership members and staff to support him. When the smoke settled and Kenyan’s visit was over, a national-record total of $127,781 was raised for the Wish Kid and the Make-AWish Foundation. The sum originated from the student body, parents, sponsors and all of Vista’s feeder schools. Together, they were able to grant 17 wishes on top of Kenyan’s. Kenyan
was sent to Walt Disney World to meet other superheros using the funds. Wood was with Student Leadership Adviser Lindsey Jaffe and other student government members when he heard the total. “It seemed like we were going to beat the year before. The week seemed bigger, but you never really know that, so that was an insane amount of money,” Wood said. “I started doing the math of how much money that would be per person and starting thinking about how much of the big donations they must have gotten from companies and donors.” Wood credits the massive success of the week to the work ethic and dedication of Student Leadership throughout the year. The group began searching for sponsors during summer and met one week before school started to begin planning the fundraising schedule. “I go to see them in August and they are already working on Wish Week,” Wood said. “We had cool stuff before Jaffe took over leadership but it wasn’t like it is now. We obviously have great kids, they put in a hell-of-a-lot of
work.” Wood is a basketball coach and has taught math classes at the school for 10 years, six of which have included Wish Week. Jaidyn was the first Wish Kid to come to Vista in 2013, followed by Dakota, Asher, Marlee and Kenyan. Wood was involved in the assemblies during Dakota’s week but became more invested in the whole process when Asher came to the school. One path that his involvement took was as a judge for the Vista Idol talent show. “I think that was kind of when all of us realized what a big deal it could be,” Wood said. “I think personally that I love kids and I think kids usually feel fairly comfortable around me.” Unfortunately, he has been unable to participate in the show since Asher’s year due to the scheduling of his team’s games on the same night. The influence Wish Week has on the hearts and minds of students strikes a chord with Wood because of the opportunity it provides for them to contribute to a meaningful cause and understand the struggle of the children that the school takes under its wing. “I think the biggest reason that [Wish Week] is important to me is we live in a place where most people have the things they need and I think it’s important in some way for kids to get a chance to put something above them and see someone that struggles and kind of get outside the bubble for a minute,” Wood said. It is often during the week that students receive and take advantage of the opportunity to become more
O involved in Vista’s events and school spirit. “I think a lot of times with freshmen it’s the week when they finally immerse themselves in Mountain Vista,” Wood said. Outside of the fact that the special week enables students to gain a new perspective on their community and appreciate their good fortune, Wood supports Wish Week because of his strong, personal connection to the children that are adopted by the school. A father of two, ages seven and four, he has all the more reason to appreciate the impact it has on the kids. “I was the person who never cried at a movie or anything until I had kids and now I cry at commercials
and stuff,” Wood said. “Just seeing these kids it’s hard. Gabby is just a little bit older than my daughter, Carly so to see that and then to see what we are going to be able to do and the whole the purpose of a wish is just to take the grind and the stress of what they are going through away for a day.” Wood will continue his involvement in the upcoming Wish Week by helping to run the assemblies and walk Gabby around the school. He will also be a referee in the Ruff ‘n Tuff volleyball competition. “[Wish Week] is one of the main reasons I want to be here,” Wood said. “It’s my favorite week of the year. It makes me sad and happy all at the same time.”
was raised by Vista and its feeder schools, granting 14 wishes and sending Kenyan to Walt Disney World to meet more superheroes just like him.
photo by greyson koinzan
photo by lauren irwin
photo by lauren lippert
photo by michael place
photo by lauren irwin
photo by gabe barnard
by lauren irwin
ou better be aware of my sassiness, I’m always sassy,” “She’s so not shy, she loves attention. I think it’s perfect for her,” Jen said. Gabby, the 2018 Wish Kid, said. Gabby is an eight-year- “She loves owning a room.” old, who truly is the Queen of Sass. She was diagnosed Although Gabby is the most upbeat eight year old, she has had a with Pre-B-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with IMP 21 difficult past year-and-a-half. After being diagnosed, Gabby and her gene in 2016. family of seven have practically lived at the hospital. Gabby’s diagnosis proved to be unique because her 21 chromosome “I think we just do things big now,” Jen said. “The first year we produces leukemia which is typically found in kids with Down asked, “What if she doesn’t have a Christmas ever again?” So we made Syndrome thus, made her situation very rare. an amazing Christmas. We asked, “What if she doesn’t have another “There’s only two percent of kids with leukemia in the world that birthday?” So we had an amazing birthday. That’s how you think at first.” have her diagnosis,” Gabby’s mom, Jen, said. A long year of struggling took its toll on Gabby and her family. Although her first wish was to have a monkey, Gabby decided to “I think her strength is [that] she’s not afraid. She fights through her change her wish to be famous. fear because she doesn’t want us to see that she’s struggling,” Jen said. “Her wish is to be famous and to throw a big epic bash, to do all the Without hesitation, Gabby said the only thing that helps her get things famous people do,” Gabby’s dad, Jon, said. “It didn’t surprise us through her Chemotherapy treatments is God. Without a doubt, Gabb’s at all, that’s just who she is.” parent’s are her biggest support system. Part of her wish came true recently, when she met the band Imagine “As a father I want to be able to fix it and I can’t,” Jon said. “You Dragons. While performing at the Pepsi Center, the band brought know, I’m supposed to be the guy that can fix anything and that was one Gabby on stage where she helped hand out autographs. “I gave people of my biggest struggles [and] I couldn’t fix it.” my autographs at the concert and I saw this lady crying so I gave her Gabby has kept strong throughout her experience. Part of her another,” Gabby said, “So, if you’re sad and you find my picture, you can treatment was installing a port which is a small piece of plastic look to me.” that is inserted under the skin and is connected to a vein. Gabby’s The concert crowd chanted Gabby’s name but, she is ready for a chemotheraphy medication is injected through a needle pushed into her better roar. Part of her wish is to have the student body chant her name. port.
“My sister asked to feel my port,”Gabby said. “She said it felt gross and she didn’t know that it hurt my feelings, so my mom and dad got tattoos that [have] the same scar and dots as my port.” Her parents proudly got matching tattoos located on the left side of their chests just as Gabby has. Gabby is currently fighting off a terrifying parasite. After being sick for over a month, her sister’s high school volleyball team dedicated a game to her. “When we took her to that game, she was motivated [because] she saw how many people loved her and were supporting her,” Jen said. “She came home and that whole event changed her. My hope is that [Wish Week] will give her another push to the end of her chemo.” Known for outrageous spirit and sense of community, Vista continues to provide several wishesduring Wish Week. Last year, Vista topped the charts when it came to donations and vibrancy, granting five-year-old, Kenyan’s wish — and 17 others. “I love Kenyan, he’s a good kid,” Gabby . Gabby said she hopes that this year the Vista community will stop at nothing to make it the best year yet.
“I love Kenyan, he’s a good kid.”
Thoughtful and generous, Gabby is always willing to make others feel better, even in her own time of struggle. One of Gabby’s biggest concerns was whether or not her hair would fall out. Even though her treatment didn’t cause her hair fall out, she turned her fear into something bigger than herself. “She made the decision to shave her head,” Jon said. “She wanted the other kids in the hospital with hair missing, to feel beautiful and to know that they could be beautiful just like her. Those are her words not ours.” Gabby’s family shaved their heads alongside her, to symbolize that beauty isn’t determined by what’s on the outside, but on the inside. As all-stars do, Gabby is getting a personal dressing room at Vista when she makes her debut. She asked for her infamous red lipstick to be abundant. “There’s not a day I could go out without red lipstick,” Gabby said. “Except for the school days.” Gabby started wearing the red lipstick after she was diagnosed in order to be powerful and bold. Although, Gabby has had a demanding childhood, she is as exuberant as any kid. She enjoys watching TV, doing ballet and had a temporary crush on Justin Bieber. She never lets her diagnosis get in the way of being sassy. “I was just a girl getting through hard stuff,” Gabby said.
“She made the decision to shave her head.” Wish Week not only brings unique children into the Vista community, it simultaneously unifies the student body. “Wish Week is so many things, but at the end, what makes Wish Week most special is that it brings everyone together,” Student Leadership sponsor Lindsey Jaffe said. “I think in a high school it is hard for everyone to feel included and involved. The fact that everyone gets to be a part of Wish Week is awesome.” In the weekend leading up to the 2018 Wish Week, Gabby says she can’t wait to be famous. “I’m excited for the people there,” Gabby said. And, Vista is ready for you, Gabby!