2014 Spirit Chain will help people down the street and far away

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Photo: Lily Condron

Amber Brewer (left) and Corey Miller (right) proudly display the 2013 Spirit Chain total for Fairmont. Each year, Fairmont selects a few charities to donate the Spirit Chain total to. In 2013, the money raised went to support the Kettering Backpack Program, Crayons to Classrooms and United Rehabilitation Services.

By Brittany Peckham, The Flyer Staff

This year marks the 30th year for the annual Spirit Chain competition between Fairmont and Centerville to see which school can raise the most money for its chosen charities. It’s been a spirited three decades that has seen the two schools raise more than $1.7 million for a wide variety of causes.

“The least amount of money we’ve earned was during the first year because not many people knew about Spirit Chain,” said Fairmont Activities Director Corey Miller. “Our biggest amount was roughly $93,000, two years ago.”

Recently, Fairmont has been holding the edge in the contest, with a seven-year winning streak. But the big winners, of course, are the charities. This year, Fairmont has selected three familiar charities and a new one operated by a Fairmont graduate.

William Wynn’s Liters of Learning

William Wynn’s Liters of Learning is a non-profit organization started by 2005 Fairmont grad Treva Wynn.

The organization strives to empower children, their parents and other members of the community to work together to construct and repair primary schools in their region, while helping their environment by reducing and reusing inorganic trash in the building methods.

A local volunteer in Guatemala places eco-bricks in a building being constructed through the efforts of William Wynn's Liters of Learning program. The program was started by Fairmont grad Treva Wynn and her husband Riley Dowler.
Photo: Treva Wynn
A local volunteer in Guatemala places eco-bricks in a building being constructed through the efforts of William Wynn’s Liters of Learning program. The program was started by Fairmont grad Treva Wynn and her husband Riley Dowler.

“Liters of Learning strives to be a bridge, helping connect a community with their full-potential,” Wynn said.

The organization is named after Wynn’s father, William Wynn. “Liters of Learning is a chance to share my dad with the world, even if it’s just through his name,” Wynn said.

On the organization’s Facebook page, Wynn recalls her father telling her to be like Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, for the world was a lot larger than Dayton, and she should experience it as much as possible.

Wynn met her husband, Riley Dowler, in Columbus, Ohio, and in 2010, the couple moved to Guatemala to teach English. In 2012, she found an online contest called Strivectin’s “Power to Change Contest,” which asked, “What would you change with $30,000?”

Wynn decided to enter and, after submitting an initial essay and collecting online votes, she was bumped to the final round. She then had to make a video explaining what she would do with the money and told the world that she would build schools for the children in Guatemala who had already helped her in ways she could never put into words.

“I received a call from New York, in my little house in Guatemala, in August of 2012. They informed me I had won $30,000,” Wynn said. “After my husband and I got over the shock and wiped away our tears of joy, we got right down to planning the inception of William Wynn’s Liters of Learning.”

When Wynn was a Fairmont student, she was a member of the Growing Peace Club, whose adviser at that time was Social Studies teacher Beth Bultemeyer, who remembers Wynn’s enthusiasm as a club member and a student.

“I had Treva in U.S. History when she was a freshman, and we did a summer camp together,” said Bultemeyer. “When I found out what she was doing in Guatemala, I was really impressed. It’s such a unique and creative idea.”

Along with her father, Wynn says she found inspiration from others in her life, including her former teacher and adviser. “Mrs. Bultemeyer became one of my biggest inspirations,” she said. “She showed me that heroes existed outside of history books.”

For more information, visit www.litersoflearning.org.

The Kettering Backpack Program

It may not be readily noticed, but a whopping 41 percent of school-age children in Kettering are on the free and reduced lunch program due to low family income.

But what do those children do for food on the weekends? That’s where the Kettering Backpack Program, a longtime Spirit Chain partner, comes in.

The program’s mission is to discreetly distribute nutritional foods to children who might otherwise go hungry over the weekends.

The Kettering Backpack Program started small in 2006, serving 15 children at JFK Elementary School. Now, the program serves 475 elementary and middle-school students each Friday.

The program’s website says students get individual servings of fruit cups, prepared pudding, vegetables, cereal, applesauce, microwaveable ravioli, mac & cheese and 100 percent fruit juice.

For more information, call (937) 296-2433 or visit www.ketteringbackpack.org.

United Rehabilitation Services

United Rehabilitation Services is an organization that specializes in providing support, care, education and training to children and adults with disabilities as well as their families.

“What makes us unique is that we serve individuals of all ages and provide the most comprehensive array of services available for those in need,” said Dennis Grant, URS’s Executive Director.

URS assists in promoting independence and supporting families. This organization specializes in multiple services, including those for youths and adults. URS is located on 4710 Old Troy Pike in Dayton, Ohio, and their phone number is (937) 233-1230. For more information, visit http://ursdayton.org.

We Care Arts

Another charity Fairmont has donated to in the past is We Care Arts.

“We Care Arts is a non-profit place where we help people with disabilities make and sell art,” said Program Coordinator Shari Hignite. “They make many things: paintings, mosaics, collages, sculptures, wooden objects, and even jewelry. It was opened for the disabled and underemployed, because selling something you created with your own hands can really boost your self-esteem. And it’s amazing how they can all come together and make beautiful art.”

Hignite said the We Care Arts staff deserves credit for making their clients feel welcomed. “We realize that some of these people’s lives outside of here aren’t always great, and we need to take care of each other,” she said. “When they wrap their arms around me and give me a hug, it’s pretty powerful.”

We Care Arts started 31 years ago by Director Terry Schalnat. We Care Arts has many events throughout the year, including their Style Show on Oct. 4, a Holiday Festival on Nov. 8, and the Cookie Walk on Dec. 6.

We Care Arts is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. On Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., WCA has an Art Cafe session where group art pieces are made for a $5 drop-in fee.

We Care Arts is located at 3035 Wilmington Pike in Kettering and you can find more info at www.wecarearts.org.

And the winner is…

Fairmont’s Spirit Chain earns money in various ways; selling T-shirts, buttons, wristbands, and other gear, as well as having competitions and receiving donations.

The spirit ramps up steadily, culminating in Spirit Week at Fairmont, which is the week before the Firebirds and Centerville Elks meet on the football field. That’s also when the grand totals are revealed and the community learns which school wins the Spirit Chain competition.

This year, Spirit Week starts on Monday, Sept. 29, and the football game is Friday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. at Roush Stadium.

Although she can’t make the trip back to Kettering for the big game, Treva Wynn sent a message for Fairmont teens to remind them about what’s most important about Spirit Week:

“To the Fairmont teens, as human beings, I feel we are morally obligated to protect, help, and support each other. We need to make our existence as pleasant and impactful as possible. Some people do this by volunteering at their local shelter, or by helping their elderly neighbors, or just by being there for a classmate who has had a bad day,” Wynn said.

“Count the things you are thankful for all day long. From having a paved road, to having sports equipment and a gym, to your cell phone. If we are privileged enough to have these things, we must be thankful enough to enjoy them.”