“When disaster strikes, the world must respond. That is our responsibility as human beings; we must care for one another, especially when in need. Therefore, I was baffled as to why it took weeks to aid Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake. Their government was in shambles and thousands were killed or displaced. The increasingly dire circumstances compelled me to take action.
I began brainstorming ideas. While I knew that I wouldn’t be allowed to directly participate in the relief in Haiti, I could fundraise. Inspiration soon struck me in gym – I would hold a school-wide dodge ball tournament to engage as many students as possible in my efforts.
Quickly, I approached the athletic advisor and pitched my idea. To my delight, he was immediately on board and together, we picked a date and established game rules. I decided upon two tournaments split between under and upper classmen teams of 5 that could participate at $25 per team. I also wanted to sell t-shirts bearing the acronym HAITI (Hope and Inspiration through Initiative) for both players and supporters. My experience in organizing events including Homecoming and Junior Prom had taught me that tasks were most efficiently accomplished in teams, so I explained my idea to fellow Key Clubbers and Student Council members who offered their assistance. Thrilled with the advances made, we quickly set out to develop flyers and team rosters, make announcements, convince teachers to referee, and sell t-shirts. Although the preparation process grew exhausting, we persevered, keeping the devastation Haitians were facing in mind.
I grew nervous as the tournament approached but the event proved to be an immense success. All 40 teams were eager to participate and be a part of such a worthy cause. Moreover, hundreds of students filled the stands to display their support. Ultimately, we raised about $1,200 which we donated to the Red Cross.
Watching my idea and everyone’s efforts culminate into this incredible event was a truly stirring experience; I was so moved by everyone’s willingness to contribute to and unite over such a devastating occurrence. It was immensely gratifying that my small suburban high school and I managed to benefit the lives of those living in crisis. I learned that while it is vital to be passionate about causes, passion alone won’t create the difference. You must take the initiative to be the change you want to see; you must be the first to take a stand. With enough dedication and determination, success and social change are within reach.
Unfortunately, Haiti still continues to face devastation. Thousands are still homeless, the nation remains impoverished and a cholera outbreak has recently spread. Because Haiti still needs help, I am working with the Key Club and Student Council to organize the 2nd annual dodge ball tournament for the spring to raise more funds for relief efforts. I can’t wait to see our school’s united front pull together as we tackle this issue and do what we can to contribute.