PASCO -- The girl pointed at the Pasco teens with a big smile that belied her chemo-ravaged bald head.
"You're the guys with the TVs?" she said. "You guys are cool."
That sealed it -- the teens would have to deliver on their ambitious promise to the young cancer patients. They would have to get those TVs.
Three months later, it's looking like they will.
Never miss a local story.
The Pasco High students -- Terra Olson, Israel Rios and Cynthia Diaz -- have taken on a senior project that far exceeds the 15 community service hours required of them for graduation. They plan to buy 25 big-screen TVs for the pediatric cancer unit at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane.
That means raising about $13,000. To get that much money, the teens are putting on a dinner, dance and auction at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco on April 29.
It started in early January with a vague plan to raise money for kids with cancer.
Terra's mother, Shelly Olson, works for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. One of her co-workers has an 11-year-old son who is being treated for leukemia at Sacred Heart.
Shelly Olson asked her co-worker how Terra could make a difference for children with cancer through her senior project. That's when the TVs came up.
The Spokane hospital is the only one in Eastern Washington for kids with cancer. Its patients range in age from infancy to 18, said Nettie Welshons, child life specialist at the pediatric cancer unit. Some kids stay a few days for treatment, some for months.
There are 25 private rooms for the kids.
The rooms look nice in pictures -- each has a daybed so family members can stay with their kids. And there are TVs so kids who are too weak for the playroom still can temporarily escape their illness.
But those TVs are fairly small and sit on cabinets, Welshons said.
The problem is that chemotherapy patients often can't see as well as they used to, and a big-screen TV can be a big help.
"The chemotherapy strains their vision and hearing, and makes them sleepy," Welshons said.
So Shelly Olson's co-worker told her that the kids at Sacred Heart would love bigger screens. Olson passed that on to her daughter, who talked to classmate Israel Rios.
Terra and Israel -- Cynthia came on board a little later -- contacted Sacred Heart. When Welshons first heard about the teens' plan, she figured they would raise a little money and send the hospital a check.
But a couple of days later, Terra and Israel showed up in Welshons' office, asking for a tour.
"They were real go-getters," Welshons said.
The tour only motivated them more.
At first, they were surprised how pleasant everything seemed. The pediatric unit hallways are decorated in an ocean theme and very colorful.
"You forget that you're at a cancer center," Israel said.
But then they saw the rooms that are closed to anyone not wearing a protective suit. And families gathered around sick children. Kids who talked slowly, short of breath.
And babies with cancer.
"It was hard ... the little infants," Terra said, her eyes welling up.
Word already had gotten around that kids from Pasco were on a mission to deliver bigger TVs. Terra and Israel were greeted with thumbs-up everywhere they went that day.
They went home, recruited Cynthia and decided they were going to buy a 32-inch flat screen TV for every one of those rooms. A quick price check told them they needed the help of a serious fundraiser.
Mike Steinlight has collected money for several community projects around the Tri-Cities and is a member of the Optimist Club, which supports efforts to help children.
"I opened my mouth at an Optimist dinner, and I shouldn't have," Steinlight said with a raspy laugh. "I tried to talk them out of it because it's such a big job."
The grizzled man has an oxygen tank by his side. Steinlight was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and told he didn't have much time left.
But he has invested plenty of energy in this project. He taught the teens how to pound the pavement and not take no for an answer.
He came up with the idea for the dinner and auction and delivered an old business friend who would provide the grand prize -- a car donated by Warner Auto Sales.
As of Monday, the teens had collected more than $2,500 in cash and a bevy of prizes for their auction -- including gym memberships, weekend trips and sports collector items.
They also got the use of the Red Lion ballroom for free and have lined up ads on radio and TV stations.
They have put in a lot of hours, and they're glad they did.
"We're really passionate about this," Terra said. "We'll get this done."