NORMAN — Bright orange signs were displayed on stage at Norman North High School Monday. SPUD co-chairs and the executive committee could barely contain themselves as they flipped the signs so they went from reading “SPUD is Love” to “$165,161.87.”
Cheers and laughter filled the high school gym as tears ran down students’ and SPUD recipients’ cheeks.
SPUD stands for “Students Performing Unselfish Deeds.”
Students described the effort to raise money for families in the community as an impactful week of selflessness that brings the entire student body together.
Ashleigh Isaac, Alexis Vance and Lauren Kaufmann served as SPUD co-chairs. Issac said the group was so emotional when the grand total was revealed because they didn’t know how much money was raised until the rest of the student body did.
“I had no idea until we flipped the signs,” she said. “We’re so happy to have raised $15,000 more than last year. This has really been a great experience.”
Norman North didn’t have a set goal this year but dedicated efforts to raising money for three families and one organization, Center for Children and Families Inc.
Harry and Jennifer O’Daniel are the parents to four children: Taylor O’Daniel, Cameron O’Daniel, Kaylynne O’Daniel and Darci O’Daniel. Darci is the youngest. She was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome. This rare form of Down Syndrome accounts for less than 5 percent of Down Syndrome cases.
In Mosaic Down Syndrome, the individual has two cell lines, one with a normal number of chromosomes and one with an extra chromosome. Darci is currently part of a genetic study at the University of Virginia.
The next SPUD recipient is Jennifer Toperzer, an instructional coach at Jefferson Elementary who helps teachers improve their teaching. She is married to Max Toperzer. On Aug. 2, Jennifer was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.