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Birthday Bash raises funds for school in Kenya

 

Christopher Andersson

Friends and family around Keith Lasher, left, sing him "Happy Birthday" at his ME to WE Birthday Bash meant to raise money for a school in Kenya on Jan. 7.

This year one local youth decided to make his birthday about the world and his community instead of himself.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School alum Keith Lasher held his "ME to WE Birthday Bash" on Jan. 7 to raise funds to build in a school in Kenya instead of getting gifts.

Lasher started supporting the WE organization, a nonprofit that raises funds for various initiatives around the world, including building schools in Kenya while he was at M-PHS.

"When I was a sophomore in high school [teacher Jim] Strickland came up with this idea for the class that we would get a million pennies," said Lasher.

A million pennies, or $10,000, was needed to build a school in Kenya through the WE organization.

"We skipped the penny idea, but we started raising money and doing things for the homeless," he said.

"We've been doing it ever since I've been out of school, and I decided I wanted to continue the idea," he said.

Instead of getting gifts, Lasher wanted people to give donations to the WE organization. "This year I decided I wanted to make my birthday not about me," he said.

A goal of the event was also to support the idea that regular people and youth in the community could make a difference.

"Thank you for turning a day that is about you into a day that is really about the global community," said Galen Kerrick, manager of operations and educational outreach at WE.

"We are all about people coming together from all different parts of the world, all different walks of life, because we believe in the power of people to make a difference in the world," he said. You don't have to be a millionaire or a politician to make a difference, he added.

M-PHS ASB President Ross Whyte said that part of the goal was to shift people's viewpoints.

"It's about shifting the focus in our lives, from trying to stop focusing on what 'I want' and 'I need' and starting to think about other people," he said.

"The fact is that nobody can achieve their dreams on their own, we need each other," he said.

He remembers being welcomed into M-PHS when he was a freshman and just that act of acceptance and caring helped him enjoy his school, and he thanked the people at the event who did that.

"A lot of people see role models as celebrities, athletes, historical figures or even parents, but a lot of people don't know that role models can be people your age who just do the right thing," he said.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring hoped that the event would encourage more people to become that kind of role model for others.

"The whole idea of people getting together, not just to have a good time, although I'm sure you're going to have a good time, but to make a difference for other people in the world is really inspiring to me," he said.

"What would happen if just a small percentage of our population thought that way. What kind of an impact would that make? Not just in Marysville, but across the world," he said.

 

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