Two campus events this month organized by three SHP sophomores helped build community, raise awareness about diabetes, and fund scholarships for local nonprofit organization Diabetes Youth Families
(DYF), which provides camps for children with diabetes and their families. Both events were centered around a Lenten theme of almsgiving.
The first event, a walkathon at the P-8 Gavello Field, was established and organized by the SHP students, Kip Nilsson (SHP ’24), Tyler Hogan (SHP ’24), and Landon Moustirats (SHP ’24), who were assisted by students in the Middle School Service Club. The walkathon was overseen by Lower & Middle School (LMS) Service Coordinator Kelly Power, who served as a faculty advisor on the project.
A week later, the sophomores hosted a second fundraiser, this time on the SHP side of campus, at the Dunlevie Aquatics Center. Dubbed the “Channel Challenge,” eight SHP students swam 21 miles—the length of the English Channel, backed by corporate and individual sponsors.
“I've wanted to do this fundraiser for a long time,” said Kip Nilsson. “I have Type 1 diabetes, and something that was really crucial to me growing up as a diabetic was going to the DYF camp. All funds raised are going toward DYF scholarships to send underprivileged kids to these camps.”
The trio enrolled in Creative Inquiry in the fall semester and began planning the fundraiser in August. Originally, due to COVID-19-related restrictions at the time, they planned only a swim event; but as pandemic restrictions began to lift, a larger walkathon event began to take shape and become a reality.
“We saw an opportunity to make a greater change and to educate more people,” said Landon Moustirats. As part of their educational outreach on campus, the high schoolers gave a presentation at two LMS assemblies, where Nilsson shared the challenges he’s faced growing up with diabetes.
SHP Creative Inquiry teacher Jake Moffat commended the students on executing two successful events, noting how they not only completed the work during the fall semester as part of the class, but continued to put in many volunteer hours into the spring semester as well.
“Kip, Tyler, and Landon embarked on a project that truly showcases the full spectrum of the Goals and Criteria of a Sacred Heart Education,” said Moffat. “Yes, they are demonstrating a social awareness that impels to action, but they are also educating and building community. Perhaps most significantly, they have worked almost completely independently. [They have] coordinated the project with teachers, administrators, parents, and peers. The learning has been tremendous and the benefit to DYF will be significant.”
The two events far exceeded fundraising goals and will send numerous individuals and families to camps at DYF. For the swim event, the students practiced networking to find 30 corporate and individual sponsors, a challenging task they said helped them acquire new skills that will serve them well beyond high school.
“Communication skills have been the biggest part,” said Tyler Hogan. “Learning how to be thorough in our communication has been integral—whether it’s about our schedules, conflicts, or things we just haven’t talked through.”
Moustirats echoed that sentiment. “We definitely needed to learn business skills, like how to send professional emails to make the ‘ask,’” he said. “We are very fortunate to be in this community where networking is very strong.”
Nilsson followed up on the emails to potential corporate sponsors with an offer of a video presentation. “A lot of them said yes, so that was pretty stressful, but it was a good opportunity for me to learn how to pitch an idea, and also how to think on the spot during those meetings when I was asked a question I wasn’t prepared for,” said Nilsson.
“I’m so thankful the community came together in the way that it did to grow awareness about diabetes. I’m so appreciative of our teachers, Ms. Power, and Mr. Moffat, and Tyler and Landon for joining this project with me and always being so supportive, going all the way back to middle school.”
Power said that it was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the three, whom she worked with on service projects when they were students at the middle school. “I appreciate their dedication to each other and the project. They showed up, followed through, and continually expressed their gratitude throughout our time together,” said Power.