Harrison Payne never has had to spend a night in the hospital, but the 8-year-old Kennewick boy knows it can be scary for other kids.
So he helped Miss Washington's Outstanding Teen Nicole Renard raise money for a local pediatric unit to get those children home to their families sooner.
Renard and four students from Cottonwood and Ridgeview elementary schools -- including Harrison -- handed a $4,000 check to officials at Kadlec Regional Medical Center on Monday to use for families and patients in the Richland hospital's pediatric center.
"I feel like ... kids that are sick should be helped to get well quicker than they would at a doctor's office if they have a really bad disease," said Harrison, a Ridgeview third-grader.
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Children at the two schools raised the money by collecting spare change and dropping it into bottles or bags in their classrooms.
Renard, a junior at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, said the project was something she started after being crowned Miss Washington's Outstanding Teen, but she drew her inspiration from a childhood friend who battled leukemia.
She said she remembered how hard it was for her friend's family to travel back and forth from the Tri-Cities to Seattle for treatment and wanted to help other children stay closer to home.
She set a goal to raise $1 per student, but said the $4,000 the two schools collected was about four times her goal.
"The response was incredible," Renard said. "They found all the coins they could find."
Maci Meads, 10, a fourth-grader at Cottonwood, said she searched her family's home for coins, and convinced her grandmother to give her change too.
"I thought it was cool what Nicole was doing -- to help all of the sick kids and their families get out of the hospital sooner," Maci said.
The money goes to the Kadlec Foundation to support Kadlec's pediatric center.
Renard said she hopes to continue the coin drive beyond her term as Miss Washington's Outstanding Teen, and hopes to extend it to more schools.
"I'm so excited about how it turned out," she said.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org