Students from Northport High School on Long Island have created their own ALS charity, "A Midwinter Night's Dream". The charity was founded in 2004 by 16 teenagers after two of their teachers were diagnosed with ALS. Students took their cues from heavyweights in the business world: Harold J. Garrecht, president of Eastshore Partners, donated to the project, and offered to teach the young people how to do some major-league fundraising. He provided guidance on how to put on a gala dinner, coached them on cold-calling potential contributors, and gave them a list of wealthy donors to approach. As a result, "A Midwinter Night's Dream" has become a million-dollar success story in only five years. The New York Times recently ran a piece detailing the teenagers' exciting progress; read it here. Northport High School student and "A Midwinter Night's Dream" participant Blair Ingraham shares perspectives on the project below.
I could not stop smiling. I had finally heard the words that I had been waiting to hear for eight months: “We have surpassed the one million dollar mark.” I could not believe we had finally accomplished the goal we had been working towards for so long. I looked to my right only to find all 550 guests standing and clapping with tears brimming their eyes. We were all hugging and screaming and crying with each other, all thinking to ourselves that this was the most amazing night we have ever experienced and wishing we could live in this moment forever.
Who would have known that a phrase as simple as “we have surpassed the one million dollar mark” could have so much meaning? To a group of forty-two high school students dedicated to finding a cure for ALS, it meant everything. At that moment, we bound together and celebrated a major feat for A Midwinter Night’s Dream: raising one million dollars for ALS Research over five years.
That moment has inspired our school and our community to keep fighting and has given hope to all of the ALS patients we visit. There are no words to describe how I feel every time that moment is replayed. Whether it be the first time or the hundredth time I have seen it, only the goose bumps on my arms can express my emotions. It amazes me every day to see how passionate, dedicated, and selfless the committee members are. I can honestly say that I am part of the most influential organization I have known, and I couldn’t be prouder.
From the moment I was told I would be a member of A Midwinter Night’s Dream after a long selection process, I knew it would be a great experience, but I never knew how much impact it would have on me, my school, and the ALS community. This committee has taught me to be a strong, confident leader and a good communicator; two qualities that will help me succeed in the real world. Members of our committee are role models for our school and for our small town. We have made a name for ourselves not only locally, but throughout the country. How many groups of high school students can say that?
Our committee’s efforts will not stop until a cure is found. We will not give up and not back down until this horrible disease is gone. We do it for all those afflicted by ALS. We do it for our heroes. There are a million reasons why we continue to fight… choose one and join us!