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Vanguard Charter Academy Student Raises Money for Cancer Research

Elliotte Smith, fourth-grade student at Vanguard Charter Academy, was principal for the day after being awarded the opportunity at a school auction. One of the items up for bid was “Principal for the Day,” which was donated by Mark DeJong, principal at Vanguard Charter Academy, and Elliotte’s parents bid on it and surprised her with it for her 10th birthday.

When Elliotte received this gift, she had a few typical things that a fourth-grader might want: extra recess with her class, to have some friends each lunch with her in the principal’s office, to read to her sister Harper’s first grade class, and to add some more four square areas on the playground. Additionally, she wanted to show her teachers how much she appreciated them by setting up a snack station in the teacher’s lounge.

“It was a wonderful day to spend with Elliotte, as she is not only a great student, but she has a beautiful character and a true desire to help others,” said DeJong. “I think she enjoyed her interactions with all of the teachers who were interacting with her like she was the principal and she beamed.”

Something unique that Elliotte wanted to do was to declare Sept. 30 “Crazy Hair/Hat Day.” In order for students to have crazy hair or a hat, they were required to make a donation to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital for cancer research. This cause is near and dear to Elliotte as her little cousin was diagnosed with cancer this summer.

“Elliotte has witnessed firsthand the impact cancer has had on her little cousin and their family,” said Ashley Heuvelmam-Smith, Elliotte’s mom. “I didn’t realize it was so much on her mind. I am so proud that she wanted to take the opportunity she had to try and make a positive impact.”

 “Crazy Hair/Hat Day” raised a total of $514.06, which was donated in Vanguard’s name to Beat Childhood Cancer at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a group of 40+ universities and children's hospitals that offer a worldwide network of childhood cancer clinical trials coordinated by the hospital.

The story even caught the attention of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation, who met Elliotte and presented the school with a certificate showing their appreciation of the donation.

“The students have been challenged this year to ‘Be the ONE’ that does something to help others, and no doubt Elliotte is being the ONE to make a positive difference in our community!” said DeJong.