Badger Mountain Elementary School raises $8,100 for Tri-City family

Ty Beaver and Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 11, 2014 

It was only a month ago that Badger Mountain Elementary School students posed for a "12th man" photo to show their Seattle Seahawks pride and help raise money for one of the school's families.

And their gesture has already paid off in a big way -- generating $8,100 for Mushtaq Jihad, whose oldest daughters attend the school.

The Iraqi refugee lost a leg in a bomb blast in his native country and needs a new prosthetic. He also recently was diagnosed with leukemia.

"We've done fundraisers that have raised $3,000 but this is pretty significant," Principal Gail Ledbetter told the Herald. "We have a very generous community."

The school has given out more than 300 copies of the aerial photograph taken by a Herald photographer in exchange for donations, Ledbetter said.

Many people paid more than the suggested price for the photo or gave a donation without taking a copy.

The school's art teacher and her pilot husband organized the 12th man photo op.

The idea to use it as a fundraiser for Jihad came after the Herald ran a front page story Jan. 19 that detailed his struggles.

Jihad, 41, was targeted by a Shia militia group in Iraq and lost his infant son in the 2007 blast that also took his right leg. He and his wife, Adela, came to the U.S. as refugees in 2008. They have four young daughters.

The Herald donated a digital copy of the 12th man photo while another teacher designed it into a poster. Digital Image Tri-Cities of Richland donated prints of the poster and the offered them to the public for a $12 donation.

While many were happy to donate in exchange for the poster, Ledbetter said, there were many who only wanted to help.

One student emptied her piggy bank to give to the Jihad family while an elderly cancer survivor brought in a cookie tin containing $100 in quarters. A recently retired teacher's friends and family donated $750 in her name.

"They were really glad to know that every cent was going to the family," Ledbetter said.

A separate fundraiser through the online site YouCaring.com brought in about $5,600.

John Roach of Pasco, a family friend, organized that effort. He said a fundraising event also is in the works to raise the final amount needed to get Jihad's new prosthetic leg. Details should be announced soon.

The new prosthetic will cost about $22,000, Roach said. He noted a physician has agreed to fit the prosthesis at no cost.

The community's response to Jihad's story has been amazing, Roach said, noting that the young father's struggles also have touched people beyond the Tri-Cities. Officials with the Gibson guitar company heard about Jihad and donated a Les Paul Signature "T" guitar to be used in the fundraising effort, Roach said.

The Jihad family and Badger Mountain students were told Tuesday of the final amount raised, Ledbetter said.

"They're so appreciative, they say thank you all the time," the principal said.

To learn more about helping Jihad, email Roach at jfroach@gmail.com.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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