NORMAN — It's not an exaggeration to say that students at Norman North High School are changing lives with SPUD Week fundraising activities, said Morgan Barfield, whose daughter was one of this year's beneficiaries.
SPUD Week, which stands for Students Performing Unselfish Deeds, raised $201,427 this year, which will be divided between two Norman families and OK Kids Korral, a home away from home for pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Norman North's goal of $130,000 was exceeded by more than $70,000, said Kayla Walker, chairwoman of this year's SPUD Week, held in late March. “It was more than I could have ever asked for,” said Walker, a senior.
The school holds an assortment of fundraising activities, including a splatter-paint black light dance, dodge ball, a battle of the bands and a letter-writing campaign to local residents and businesses. The fundraiser is in its 14th year.
Part of the money raised this year will go to the family of Morgan and Travis Barfield, whose daughter Marleigh was born 17 months ago with her intestines outside of her body.
Also receiving SPUD Week money are Jenny and Brad Bryan, whose 6-year-old daughter Andey has had surgery for spina bifida occulta, a spinal defect. She will require additional surgery in the future.
Travis Barfield and Brad Bryan are graduates of North.
The third recipient, which will get $50,000 from an anonymous donor, is OK Kids Korral, a home away from home for the families of pediatric cancer patients. OK Kids Korral is being built in Oklahoma City by the Toby Keith Foundation near the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center and other medical facilities.
The Barfields plan to use their part of the money to take Marleigh out of state to a special intestinal rehabilitation program not available in Oklahoma, Morgan Barfield said.
They are hoping to avoid “kind of a scary surgery” that would involve removing part of Marleigh's intestine, Morgan Barfield said. Marleigh, who underwent surgery to place her intestines inside her body, does not tolerate surgery well, she said.
The family hopes the rehabilitation program will correct the function of Marleigh's intestines without more surgery or a transplant.
Norman North students are “changing her life by what they've done,” said Morgan Barfield. “They're allowing her to have a better life.”
Jenny Bryan, the mother of Andey, said the family feels “very blessed that we got chosen.”
The Bryan family has faced several significant medical expenses, including breast cancer treatment for Jenny and asthma treatments and glasses for Andey.
The money will go to “pay all the collection agencies that keep calling us,” Jenny Bryan said.
The Bryans have been impressed with the students' hard work and successful fundraising. The students' efforts will also help many other families through the OK Kids Korral, she said.
“I've never seen anything like it. I want to give 'em all a hug and a high-five,” Bryan said.
Students chose to direct their donation to OK Kids Korral toward the cost of a two-story stone and tile fireplace in the house, said Juliet Nees-Bright, executive director of the Toby Keith Foundation. The fireplace will feature a piece of custom glass artwork on the front, she said.
Students said they liked the idea of helping pay for a fireplace, which will be a place of gathering and warmth, Nees-Bright said.
Kids Korral, at 818 NE 8, is expected to open in October, she said.