‘It gives hope’: Colorado Springs school raising funds to grant wish of critically ill local boy

One local school is looking to help raise money for a little boy with a magical dream.
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 9:49 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Hugh is 8 years old. He loves the movie “Toy Story,” the color red, basketball, and all animals -- especially lions.

But this little boy also suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.

“He was diagnosed with a genetic disorder when he was really little, so he’s just been struggling with this for years and it’s just taken a really big toll on his family and him as well,” said Sarah Frabbiele.

Sarah, a student at Banning Lewis Prep Academy and the president of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter, learned about Hugh and other kids like him while at an FBLA state convention.

“I was able to go and talk to a whole bunch of different people, and one of them was a [Make-a-]Wish representative, and he was just talking to me about how he’s seen such a difference that this has made in those kids’ lives and how cool it is to see those different clubs in the school and the community all rally together for this one kid and kids like them to help raise money.  So I just think it’s just so cool, and I just love everything they’re doing and watching everybody rally together to make this happen.”

That got the wheels turning, says her FBLA advisor, Laura Patterson.

“When I was there, she kind of grabbed me initially as soon as she met this person, and she and another [FBLA] member were just, ‘We have to do this, we have to do this.’”

“This” was the Make-A-Wish “Kids for Wish Kids” program. To help fulfill the dreams of critically ill kids, Make-A-Wish relies heavily on the generosity of donors and fundraisers. The need is even greater right now post-COVID, due to the roughly two years wishes were put on hold.

“They’re trying to grant wishes as quickly as possible so they can catch back up, because whenever a kid’s wish is granted, there’s more kids waiting in line unfortunately that have already been diagnosed with something that’s critical.”

In Colorado Springs alone, Sarah and Patterson believed there were about 40-50 kids on the list. Not all are necessarily terminal, but all suffer serious, life-threatening conditions.

Roughly one-third of this fundraising comes from schools that participate in the Kids for Wish Kids program. Schools are assigned a child in their state -- and often right in their city -- and then throw their efforts into fundraising to grant that one local child’s wish. The national website suggests fundraising ideas like “’thons” (think danceathons, walkathons) and “fun nights.”

Banning Lewis Prep got the idea for a whole “Wish Week.”

“When we first got in contact with Make A Wish, they actually assign you a Wish Kid.  There’s a lot in the city.  We were given Hugh,” Sarah said. “That’s just super cool, that we get to help a kid in our city.”

“[Hugh’s family was] just saying that they’ve been going through this for so long, and they felt like now would be a time to try to give him some hope to keep pushing forward and to make it, because he deals with seizures.  It’s kind of a rare form of epilepsy.  He’s dealing with it, and they just need us.  They need some hope and something to look forward to and to plan.  So that’s what they want to do, take him to Disney,” Patterson said.

Sarah said they started planning early and advises any school who wants to do this, to do the same.

“Get in contact with Make-A-Wish as soon as possible so that you can have plenty of time to plan and contact businesses and get sponsorships and things like that.  But also, just really get your school involved.  Make sure you hype it up and everybody’s excited about that!”

“Was your school excited?” I asked.

“Yes, very!” she told me.

Banning Lewis Prep got busy making Hugh’s dream come true.

The school reached out to a number of local businesses, including Porshce, Summit Interquest, Chick-Fil-A and Panera Bread.

“Porsche Colorado actually sponsored us as our Fantasyland sponsor, and the rest of those guys gave us donations and giveback nights, and it’s been really amazing to see the community come together,” Patterson said.

The school threw itself into organizing different fundraising events, one for each night of Wish Week.

“We have different sports teams doing different events, different clubs, so they’ve all been very excited about this,” Sarah said.

Monday, April 17, kicked off Wish Week! The week runs through Sunday, when online fundraising concludes.

“Summit Interquest sponsored us, so it was a giveback night, so kids were able to go there and buy game cards, and then we got half of the proceeds that came from that, as well as a Panera Bread giveback night, so same thing, you go to Panera Bread, eat dinner, and we also got some of the kickback from them. We have a basketball competition going on.  So people can pay to compete with things like Horse and free-throw contests, things like that.  Thursday) is our family fun night, so there’s going to be different games, crafts, a Super Smash Brothers competition ... Monday, we had a chess tournament.  Chess is super popular at our school right now, so we really got all those kids involved to compete and play.  It was just a super fun event,” Sarah said.

“Those are the after-school programs,” Patterson added.  “During the day, we’ve sold wish stars, shooting stars, they’re voting for teacher karaoke -- who’s going to have the sing-off on Friday among some of the teachers -- we’re doing a raffle. Chick-fil-A gave us two $45 baskets and we’ve made a couple of other movie-themed baskets and some other baskets that people can buy raffle tickets for.  So there’s lots of other things going on during the day.”

Everyone from freshmen to faculty have gotten involved.

“Our principal has said she’ll dress up in the Disney costume of the students’ choices, and they’re voting with coins and dollars to do that, and she’ll dress up Monday if we meet our goal,” Patterson said.

I was told Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” was one of the options on the table!

The school’s official goal is $5,000, with a dream goal of $10,000. All proceeds are going to help make Hugh’s dream a reality.

What does this mean to a “Wish Kid” to have their wish granted?

“It’s just the coolest thing,” Sarah said.  “At our Summit Night, actually, there’s an employee there who was a wish kid himself. We also have one in the school who was a wish kid.  So just to hear their stories and hear how much wishes have impacted their lives and completely changed everything for them is just the coolest experience.”

“When you see the difference it makes, it takes a kid who’s critically ill and gives them hope.  We have a kid here who their wish was a dog, and it was such a calming factor to the anxiety of all of the things he had to go through when he was younger,” Patterson said.

“You know, we think, ‘Oh, they’re going to Disney. Oh, they’re going to something.’  They’ve been going through trials and problems we can’t even imagine.  And this gives them hope to keep going on.  And some of these kiddos who are critically ill can literally pull out of that.  They’ve literally pulled out of the illnesses because they have hope. People have invested in them and given them hope.  And that to us is what it’s all about.”

“I love that we get to do this for Hugh,” Sarah said.

The “Banning Lewis Grants Wishes” fundraiser continues online through 11:59 Sunday night. If you wish to donate, click here.

If your school would like to get involved with Make-A-Wish, click here.