‘Outreach’ project supports local family

Sequim High School students fundraise for the Eekhoffs

Eekhoff Family Fundraiser

When: Noon-4 p.m., Sunday, May 3.

Where: Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center gym, 610 N. Fifth Ave.

Cost: $3 for children 12 years and younger, $5 per adult or $10 per family.

More info: Contact Briana Galbreath Hodge, TOP club leader, at 206-328-4970 ext. 3516.


United by the Teen Outreach Program, 10 Sequim High School students are working toward a fundraising event to support 2013 Sequim High graduate Dylan Eekhoff, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this year.

Each semester TOP club members embark on a community service learning project and although every project has proven to be a “positive experience,” Halie Wilson, club member and senior at Sequim High School, said, “to do something to help the Eekhoff family is amazing.”

For many of the club’s members there is a connection to either Dylan or his parents, Cheryl and Jon, as they both teach within the Sequim School District, Briana Galbreath Hodge, Planned Parenthood youth development specialist and TOP facilitator, explained.

Thus, when brainstorming for their next community service learning endeavor, the entire club was excited by the idea of spearheading a fundraiser to assist a local family like the Eekhoffs and offset the cost associated with Dylan’s treatment.

Since Feb. 2, Dylan has been in and out of Swedish Medical Center in Seattle undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Dylan will begin what’s expected to be his fourth and final round of chemotherapy Saturday, April 25.

“I think they’re a really great family and it’s hard seeing them go through something like this,” Wyatt Perdomo, club member and high school senior, said. “We’re hoping to take some of the burden off them.”

Family fundraiser

In their desire to help alleviate the hardships the Eekhoffs are experiencing, TOP club members have organized an afternoon filled with games, prizes and food at the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center gym.

“I think this is what communities are for,” Scott Deschenes, SARC executive director, said in response to providing the club with a venue. “Communities should work together on things and as a community center, I think it’s important we support efforts like this.”

With ample space available some of the games the students are preparing include an egg toss and water balloon toss.

“The Sequim group has been a phenomenal one to work with,” Galbreath Hodge said. “This particular group is very enthusiastic and highly motivated.”

Throughout the planning phase, Galbreath Hodge admits she’s noticed the “ease” of organizing the project and attributes that to the Sequim students’ connections with the Eekhoffs and therefore heightened interest to act positively.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see a community come together for a local family like this,” she said.

The program

The club’s community service learning project under way is the last to occur via TOP because the program has reached the end of its five-year plan. The federally funded program in partnership with the Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health has been facilitated by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest with an overall goal to reduce teen pregnancy and increase high school retention.

To empower students, one of the major components of the program is the community service learning projects because they allow students to recognize their own abilities.

“Students can see how they and their voices can create change,” Galbreath Hodge said. “It shows them the physical evidence that they can make a difference.”

Wilson joined TOP her senior year because it seemed both interesting and a good way to discuss “topics and issues that don’t get talked about,” among her peers, she said.

But, because of the “eye-opening experiences” the community service learning projects create, the projects remain her favorite part of the program.

After attending the upcoming family fundraising event, Wilson hopes “people will realize what a strong community Sequim is,” and to not only raise funds, but awareness, too.

Together, the students of Sequim’s TOP club are inspired create change and bring together the community and shared support for a local family.

Admission to the event doesn’t grant access to other SARC facilities.

Reach Alana Linderoth at alinderoth@sequimgazette.com.