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BCMS Gift of Life brings welcome results

Filed in Archive, BCMS by on October 4, 2018

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When the middle school hosted a 5K event on a sunny Sunday morning last April, students at the school knew it was to support a good cause. Proceeds from the race were to be used to provide lifesaving heart surgery for children in underserved countries through an organization known as Gift of Life International, which partners with local Rotary clubs to provide children with medical services across the globe. 

Fast-forward to a rainy day in September, and the same students who helped organize the race got welcome news, delivered in person, from a mom and her one-year-old son. The two had traveled from Mongolia so that baby Taivnaa could have surgery to repair a hole in one of the chambers in his heart. The successful surgery was made possible, in part, by the efforts of the school community. On the day of their visit, the family delivered a message of hope and thanks to students, staff and community members who had made their trip possible.

Showing no signs of recent invasive surgery, littleTaivnaa stuck close to his mother while enjoying his time with students and staff. They ate pizza and salad and through an interpreter, Taivnaa’s mother told the students that she and her husband realized their son was sick when they noticed he was blue around his eyes and around his mouth due to a lack of oxygen.

Odko Tuvshintur said her family was “so happy” when they were informed Taivnaa had been selected to receive heart surgery in the United States. The surgery took place on September 6 and her son is on the road to recovery.

“Since the surgery, he does not have the blue color and he is so well now,” Tuvshintur said.  “I would like to express my deepest appreciation for your support. As a mom, you returned my child to me.”

According to the Gift of Life International website, more than 90 percent of children with congenital heart defects are born in countries without adequate health care options. Gift of Life bridges that gap, bringing children to the U.S. to receive care and sending medical teams to developing countries to help train doctors and nurses in those countries.

The Rotary Club of Delmar is a sponsor of character education programs at the middle school, providing food for the celebratory breakfasts and lunches where students are recognized for being role models at school. The Delmar Rotary is part of Rotary International, a service organization bringing business and professional leaders together to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.

A special connection to the service organization

During the 2017-18 school year, a group of then-sixth graders (Amelia Kuhn, Paige Bruce, Arthur Huang, Richa Shenoy), with the help of several staff members, organized the race to raise money for the local Gift of Life organization, Gift of Life Rotary District 7190. Hall Principal Jacqueline Munroe, who oversees character education at the middle school, has a special connection to the Rotary and to Gift of Life International.

“In 1971, my father joined the Manhasset Rotary on Long Island and became its president in 1975. That was the year that changed his life,” said Munroe. “There was a plea for help from a Rotary Club in Uganda on behalf of 5-year old Grace Agwaru who was suffering from a congenital heart defect. Grace was brought to St. Francis Hospital where she received her lifesaving surgery and the Gift of Life Program had its start.”

Munroe said she and the students who helped organize the 2018 race were pleased with the turnout. A second annual BCMS Gift of Life 5K has already been scheduled for May 5, 2019.

“We are hoping to expand the event to all of our student leadership groups, giving them an opportunity to not only participate in this school event, but to set up tables and share the work that they are doing here at BCMS during the post-race family fun day,” said Munroe.

“It would be great for each group have a team of runners and volunteers to represent their groups,” said Munroe.

Ms. Munroe said any student or staff member interested in helping to plan the May 2019 BCMS Gift of Life 5K and Family Fun Day should attend the first planning meeting on Friday, October 12, after school in the main office.