At Republic High School, seniors create a final project for English class. The topic is up to the student; it can be anything they are passionate about. Emily Neighbors decided to take advantage of this opportunity to make a true difference in the lives of ill children.
Originally from Memphis, Tenn., Emily always felt a special connection to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After realizing Mercy Children’s Hospital’s Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center in Springfield, Mo. is a St. Jude affiliate clinic, she became excited at the idea of helping kids locally.
"The kids live just down the street or across town that were just dealt a bad card in life," Emily said.
For her project, Emily put on a fundraising dinner with proceeds from the event benefitting the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center. In preparation for this event, Emily was invited to job shadow a child life specialist for a day in the clinic. This day brought her passion for helping the pediatric cancer patients and their families to a new level. She used what she had learned and stories of children she had met to educate and inspire guests at the dinner she hosted at Mercy Hospital Springfield on Feb. 18. Emily had 35 people in attendance, and so far she's raised close to $5,000 which will help pay for toys and crafts for the children to play with during chemotherapy treatments as well. Some of the money is also used to buy gas cards for local families.
"I was amazed we raised that much," Emily said.
Those at the dinner were amazed at the young girl’s passion, professionalism, and kind heart.
“I was inspired by Emily’s passion from the moment I met her. It was a pleasure working with her and seeing the project become a reality,” said Jennifer Battagler, Director of Philanthropy at Mercy Health Foundation Springfield.
This Republic teen is not finished. She's now composing letters to mail to those who were unable to attend the dinner in hopes of raising even more funds.
Emily plans to go to college next year at Southeast Missouri State University. After this experience, Emily has voiced that she is considering becoming a child life specialist.
If you are interested in donating to the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center, visit Mercy Health Foundation Springfield.