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Children’s miracle fundraiser helps save lives


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Published 2012-04-24T20:03:00Z”/>

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Juniper Rose

Eight minutes after she put on her riding boots, 10-year-old Jessica Lavine was taken away in an ambulance.

Jessica took weekly horseback riding lessons near her home in Folsom. She was kicked in the head in 2010 by a horse and suffered traumatic brain injuries that forced doctors to remove part of her skull to relieve swelling.

Jessica spent 11 days in the pediatric intensive care unit and seven weeks in the hospital. The hospital intended to send her home when she was still in a vegetative state, but a physical therapist fought for her to go to a Children’s Miracle Network hospital for rehabilitation instead, said Jolene Lavine, Jessica’s mother.

Doctors anticipated that Jessica might never recover her speech, sight, hearing or mobility. But after two years of intensive therapy at the Children’s Miracle Network hospital, she has regained her sight and hearing and is in a wheelchair and learning to walk.

In mid-April, the Chico State chapter of the national fraternity Sigma Chi held Derby Days, a charity event that raised more than $15,300 for the Children’s Miracle Network — for children like Jessica.

The money was donated to the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, a member of the Miracle Network, where it will support children from Northern California, including Chico, said Jacquelyn Kay-Mills, a representative of Children’s Miracle Network.

Chico State fraternities and sororities raise money for a variety of different philanthropies that benefit national causes.

The Theta Chi fraternity is raising money this week to fight gun violence with its philanthropic War of the Roses event.

Derby Days is a weeklong event, and university-recognized sororities compete to raise the most money for Sigma Chi’s philanthropy, said Isaac Brown, the Sigma Chi Derby Days chairman and a senior communication design major.

The Chico State chapter of Sigma Chi more than doubled the $6,000 it raised in Derby Days last year by starting an online fundraising program, Brown said.

Sigma Chi and sorority members sent emails to friends and family to ask for contributions through the new online fundraising program Webraze, Brown said.

“Just from Webraze we raised over $10,000 this year, which was more than our total amount last year,” he said. “We just completely blew our last year’s total out of the water.”

During Derby Days, sororities buy T-shirts and hold coin drives on campus while Woodstock’s Pizza and Kinder’s Meats and Deli donate a percentage of their profits, Brown said. Sigma Chi members are also auctioned off to sororities, and they then have to work for the sorority by cleaning its house or making the members a picnic.

The sororities’ participation was a big part of the success, said Ryan Quintero, Sigma Chi president and a senior business administration major.

Everyone was on their “A-game,” Quintero said.

“Our goal was always $10,000, but this is the first year that we did it,” he said. “Now that we saw that we can go above that there is no stopping us.”

It is inspiring to know more about how the money raised is benefiting others, said Cece LeMay, a junior liberal studies major and member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

Students come together to help provide services that change the lives of children and families, LeMay said.

Twice a week, Jessica Lavine goes to therapy sessions at the Children’s Miracle Network hospital where she is relearning how to brush her hair, dress herself, speak, swallow food and do all the things she used to.

It’s been two years since the accident, and as a parent, the situation can become very tiring, Jolene Lavine said.

“There are good days where I think she is going to conquer the world,” she said.

Then there are the days when it seems that Jessica is never going to get any better, Jolene Lavine said. At the Children’s Miracle Network, however, they never have those bad days.

“They are always reminding us that she can move further,” she said. “They are cheering her on and pulling us through when we are at that point where we want to give up.”

Jolene Lavine periodically gets survey calls from the Miracle Network company in Nebraska asking her to rate her experience with the hospital.

“I have yet to get through one of those calls without crying,” she said. “I get so moved by how much they do for my daughter – how they care for her and how much they care for us.”

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<strong>Juniper Rose can be reached at</strong>

<em>[email protected]</em>

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        Children’s miracle fundraiser helps save lives