We danced, and danced, and danced…. And we got Payton a dog.
In our student worship (ROG) on April 11, 2018 Junior Molly Davis made a promise: Grace Prep, as a community, was going to raise enough money for Freshman Payton Stevens to get the specially-trained diabetes service dog that he needs.
Payton has Cystic Fibrosis, as well as Type 1 Diabetes.
“I’ve known Payton for about 4 years now, and just in the past year, I’ve just really spent a lot more time with his family and started to see more of what they go through in his day-to-day life,” said Davis. “I recently spent some time with him up in the hospital last fall and that’s really whenever I was like ‘okay, we’ve gotta get him a dog’.”
A service dog can alert his parents if Payton were to slip into a coma if the dog detects any drops in his blood sugar while he sleeps, a task his parents John and Tiffanie Stevens wake up each night to check now. Knowing he is being watched while away from home and at college is important to the Stevens family.
“We actually came to Grace Prep because of the flexible schedule,” said Tiffanie. “When he goes into the hospital, we don’t have to unenroll him and re-enroll him, we can just home-school.”
The Stevens have been making an impact on the Grace Prep community for 7 years. This made it easy for the GPA community to give back to them.
On May 12, 2018 we did just that. How? By hosting a dance marathon. Individuals of all types joined together, eliminating differences in order to focus on one similarity: The intention to get Payton a service dog.
The rules were simple: donate and dance. Davis sent a pldege form home with students to recruit pledges, and the school linked an online donation option to the school’s website.
Students would then show up to the dance-a-thon, happening from 12pm-12am, and dance, getting however much money people pledged per dancing hour.
By 2pm, our GPA community donated $15,000.
The turnout to the event was small at first, which concerned Davis briefly, but as the evening rolled in, the big dogs came… the upperclassmen showed up to help too.
Junior Quinton Browder, The Mane Post Reporter, interviewed the family at nearly 11 pm, when the count was at $31,000. He asked how they were feeling, and the answer was no surprise.
“Happy! Excited!” said Payton, as John Stevens, Payton’s father, chimed in with “Tired!”
From 12pm-12am hundreds of tired kids came and went, some staying the entirety of the 12 hours, as they Cha Cha slided the night away.
Junior Sydney Woychesin acted as Davis’s right hand during the whole event.
“I knew she [Molly] was planning a lot of things, and was just under a lot of stress in planning this whole thing and I knew that a lot of people would be dancing, so I wanted to make sure she had people that could help her throughout the night,” said Woychesin.
The pair were busy into the late hours of the night, making sure everything ran smoothly and everyone was having a good time.
Then it happened: We, as a school, reached our goal of raising $35,000, and then some.
Unity…It’s a word that’s relevant in this case. The dance-a-thon brought the school together in a unique way that is rare to experience. Our school is not just a school, it is one big family; able to rely on one another for the deepest of needs.