By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Four local teenagers are proving you don’t have to be an adult, rich or more than an average citizen to create hope and give back to those in need.
Kelsey Smith, Southmoore High School, Ashley Morris, Westmoore High School, Seyanna Smith, Norman North High School and Shelby Ellicott, Moore High School, hit the ground running in January to raise funds for 16-year-old Jazmin Hammons who struggles with Chiari malformation.
The idea to help Jazmin came after all four girls attended Moore Norman Technology Center and participated in the club Health Occupation Students of America, HOSA. Each year students involved in HOSA can compete in a state competition and Kelsey, Ashley, Seyanna and Shelby decided to compete in the community awareness category. Kelsey said they didn’t want to do something small and that they wanted their work to really benefit someone or the community.
Those that suffer from Chiari malformation have a skull that is too small for their brain, which causes the brain to be squished and fall down through the skull where the spinal cord connects to the brain.
Side effects of this malformation include painful headaches, trouble remembering events, people, places and facts and imbalance.
Hammons is a sophomore at Moore High School who was a successful student and loved to run track until her Chiari symptoms set in more recently. Now, Hammons has been having difficulty in school because she can’t remember what she’s learned and running track is no longer an option, Ashley explained.
Hammons sees 12 doctors and additionally faces complications from Scoliosis, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and Connective Tissue Disorder.
The group’s fundraising slogan is “Hope for Jazmin” and they would like their fundraising efforts to provide money for as many medical treatments, medicine and travel expenses as possible. In particular, Hammons’ family needs funds to travel to New York to see a Chiari malformation expert.
Besides setting a goal of raising $2,500 for Hammons and her family, hope, support and awareness are the group’s secondary goal, Kelsey explained. The group began selling purple bracelets, which is the international color for Chiaria malformation awareness, for $2 in January. Each bracelet reads “Hope for Jazmin.” The group ordered 400 bracelets and have sold them to classmates and community members. Bracelets are still available for purchase.
The group went on to host a Zumba fundraiser and raised $250, then later a Chick-fil-A fundraiser in Moore where they received 10 percent of each ticket put in a box to benefit Jazmin. The girls served drinks to people and cleaned tables during the fundraiser. Ashley said they only raised $65 at that event, but every dollar added to their total and would make a difference in Jazmin’s life.
“I didn’t know we could help and do all of this as high school students,” Ashely said.
Gaining support, Shelby, vice president of her senior class at Moore High School, made it her mission to get her whole senior class involved, Morris said. Shelby’s determination paid off and the Moore High School senior class will be instrumental in supporting the group’s upcoming carnival fundraiser.
Additionally, Moore High School’s senior gift will be a planted tree on campus with purple blooms in honor of Jazmin and others with Chiari malformation.
On March 13 the group will host another fundraiser for Jazmin at Raising Canes in Moore, 700 SW 19th St. Fifteen percent of each receipt of those who dine at the restaurant from 4 to 10 p.m. will go to help Jazmin.
But the group’s biggest fundraiser will be a carnival on April 5 at Moore High School. The carnival will include inflatables, a dunk tank, games run by Moore High School sports teams, a silent auction, cake walk, face painting and a clown. To enjoy all of the carnival’s festivities, $20 will include entrance into everything or attendees can pay for each game, activity they choose to do as they go along. The carnival will take place from noon to 4 p.m.
Even when the HOSA competition results are announced, Kelsey said the group would still move forward with fundraising for Jazmin.
“They are the sweetest family and so gracious,” she said. “I feel like we can relate to Jazmin because she’s close to our age and going through a lot of the same high school problems we go through.
I’ll never know what it feels like to have Scoliosis, but I know what it’s like to feel self-conscious around your classmates, all of us do. We hope Jazmin doesn’t feel so alone anymore.”
For more information about upcoming fundraisers, to buy a bracelet or to donate, call Kelsey Smith at 259-8873 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.