PASCO -- A group of kids put out a call for help last month -- and the Tri-Cities responded.
As a result, children cooped up during cancer treatment will get bigger TV sets, and there still is a big chunk of money left for a local charity.
Three Pasco High students -- Terra Olson, Israel Rios and Cynthia Diaz -- took on a senior project that far exceeded the 15 community service hours required of them for graduation. They set out to buy 25 big-screen TVs for the pediatric cancer unit at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane.
Sacred Heart is the only place for pediatric cancer care east of the mountains and serves many from the Tri-Cities.
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The hospital has 25 private rooms for the young patients, some of whom stay for weeks or months at a time.
The rooms have small TVs so that those kids who are too weak to join group activities can escape their harsh reality for a while. But chemotherapy patients often can't see as well as they used to, and a big-screen TV can be a big help.
The three Pasco students spent months organizing an auction and dinner, which they held last week.
They figured they would need about $13,000 to buy 25 TVs. That already was a lot of money for a group of teens to collect.
Then they found out that the kind of TVs and mounting hardware that meet hospital regulations would cost more -- about $22,000 for all 25 rooms, said Shelly Olson, Terra's mother.
But their fundraising efforts exceeded all expectations -- the three students collected more than $36,000.
One anonymous donor alone deposited $10,000 in the account set up for this project. And the auction was a great success, too.
"It was amazing," said Terra Nelson. "So many people showed up; it was indescribable."
The teens now will buy the TVs for Sacred Heart and donate the rest of the money to the Tri-City chapter of the American Childhood Cancer Organization.
Many hours of volunteer work now come to a fruitful end.
The three were determined to meet their original goal of $13,000. But they never thought they would get such an overwhelming response.
"36,000? -- that's crazy," Terra said.
* Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org