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Student organization praised for more than just fundraising

Student organization praised for more than just fundraising

The Association of Fundraising Professionals recently recognized a group of high school students as Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy. They saw a need and decided to put more than money behind the cause.

The Washington High School Student Government Association (SGA) is planning for their biggest annual fundraiser, a 5K run. Each year, they decide as a group what cause their funds will support. Last year, an incident led them to give more than money.

"We had one of our dance team members at the Wahoo game had epilepsy and she had a seizure during a game," said Pensacola Blue Wahoos Owner Quint Studer. "Not only did they raise money, but all 42 of them went and got certified on how to be a peer-to-peer to help other students with epilepsy and I really think that's what makes them stand out."

"I didn't realize that a seizure wasn't like just convulsing, but there's like 'lookaway' seizures where you just kind of like stare off in the distance; like glazed over almost," Washington High SGA student Coulson Barfield explained.

That certification process required a bit of time and commitment to complete the 12 sessions to learn how to respond to various seizures. That type of dedication is something that SGA membership instills in them.

"You have obligations you have to meet," Washington High SGA student Brianna Robinson said. "It keeps you focused. It keeps you on track. It builds your leadership skills, which can take you very far.

"It's a great feeling," Coulson said. "I mean, it's just one of those, if it did happen, you're covered. You know what to do; you can act in that moment.

The students didn't rest of that good feeling. There was much more work to be done.

"They also raise money to provide backpacks to students who may not have food over the weekend." Escambia School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said. "Every Christmas they adopt families and provide gifts to students that may not have any other Christmas gifts except those that come from these young people."

"It is at the core of their mission, their vision and everything that they do and they do it with such a great deal of pride; without any expectation that there will be acknowledgement at the end," Washington High School Principal Dr. Michael Roberts said.

It is their compassion for others that most touches Pam Hicks. She's been the Student Government Association sponsor for the past six years.

"I have hope for the future when I post a picture of my students and what they have done; hope for the future," Hick said. "There are some good kids out there."

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by the Studer Family Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart.

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