Cheryl Stouder receives prestigious Make-A-Wish award

RECOGNIZING A WISH-MAKER

CJHS teacher Cheryl Stouder receives prestigious award from Make-A-Wish

A longtime Concord Junior High School teacher and staunch Make-A-Wish advocate was recognized for her many years of service with the organization’s top state award Friday, March 29, 2019.

As students and staff gathered Friday to celebrate the conclusion of the 2019 Make-A-Wish events, Make-A-Wish officials took the stage to present organizer Cheryl Stouder with the Luke Butler Spirit Award. The award is given annually to “an outstanding partner who has gone above and beyond in making wishes come true.”

Together with her husband, Kent, Stouder has dedicated many years of her life to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation through personal contributions and in leading the fundraising efforts of Concord Junior High School students and staff.

ABOUT THE AWARD

The prestigious award is named in honor of Luke Butler, a 2009 Make-A-Wish recipient who served as an ambassador to the organization.

Butler was diagnosed with a degenerative lung disease in 2008 and found comfort through gardening and horticulture particularly fruit and vegetables. In late 2009, Luke was granted his wish to go to Hawaii, build sandcastles with his brothers, and see where pineapples grow.

“The wish provided Luke and his family the opportunity to take a step away from his medical battle and spend time as a family, creating beautiful, precious memories together,” said Hilary Butler (no relation), senior director of major gifts for Make-A-Wish.

After his wish, Luke became an ambassador for Make-A-Wish and was passionate about making sure other children were granted the same experience he received. Luke passed away in 2011 at the age of 8, but the memories and spirit of his wish live on today.

“Each year the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana presents the Luke Butler Spirit Award to an individual who has truly gone above and beyond in making wishes come true, and shares a passion for our mission, much like Luke did,” Butler said. We are honored to present Cheryl Stouder with this award as she has been a true champion for our mission.”

BUILDING A ‘DREAM TEAM’

Stouder began her career at Concord Community Schools during the 1987-88 school year and has taught English/Language Arts at Concord Junior High School for all 32 years. In the early 1990s, Stouder pitched the idea to adopt Make-A-Wish as a school-wide fundraiser to then-principal Kevin Caird, who enthusiastically supported it.

The first Make-A-Wish was held in 1995 and $18,654.79 was raised. Two years later, the second event raised more than $42,000.

In the years since, the fundraiser has been one of the highest-performing efforts by a school district in the country. Over the course of 25 years, students and staff at Concord Junior High School have raised a grand total of $385,439.78.

But even more than the incredible contributions to this worthy organization is the life lessons it provides for the teenage students, noted CJHS Principal Rob Zook.

“Participating in Make-A-Wish teaches our students the importance of philanthropy. We witness growth in the way they relate and understand the challenges their peers are facing, and in their drive to help others,” Zook said. “In a lot of ways, Cheryl was the catalyst for that growth. We’re grateful for the life lessons she’s instilled in thousands of our students, as well as in our community.”