A walk through Doernbecher forever changed a teen boy’s life

David Mack and family are collecting donations for OHSU Doernbecher at 5701 Texas Drive Vancouver, WA 98661

Five years ago I was part of the Kids Making Miracles program at Hudson’s Bay High School. Eleven other guys and I raised thousands of dollars for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the experience was unforgettable. At 18 years old I felt like I was making a difference.

At that age most kids are just trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Being selected as one of the 12 guys to represent my high school and raise money for Doernbecher was, at first, more of an accomplishment than a privilege.

My thinking behind this was that in order to be one of the 12 participants you had to be selected by other students as well as staff, so being selected meant reaching a point where you were known and respected by others, or in other words popular; which, at that time seemed to be most important.

In December of 2007 my perspective of what was important to me changed. That December, 11 other guys and I visited Doernbecher Children’s Hospital — it was my first time. We toured the facility. We were shown the meditation room, the outdoor play area and walked past the patients’ rooms. It was at that point that I realized how much of a difference I could make, a difference that we all could make.

Looking into the patient’s rooms and seeing all of the young faces battling something bigger than I have ever realized.The only thing important to them was finding the will to survive, how foolish I felt at that moment. At first, becoming a representative to raise money was an accomplishment, something that I was proud of, but I had no idea the impact it would have in my life.

Those brief seconds of walking by the rooms I became humbled by the opportunity in front of me, a sense of responsibility grew within me.

The next five months were passionately spent fundraising. In the end over $85,000 was raised, hearing that total announced in front of the school filled me with pride. Knowing that the money was to go straight to Doernbecher to help all of those kids that we saw at the hospital and knowing that I was a part of it was such a satisfying feeling. What I did not realize in that moment of satisfaction was that the desire to help would remain.

I continue to support Doernbecher. Although it is not on such a grand scale, it is something that I am proud to support. Every Christmas my family and I decorate our house with thousands of lights and on most nights, although not all, we give out hot chocolate and candy canes. Throughout the whole month of December, we collect donations from people who pass by. At the end of the holidays we take all of the collections that we received and we bring them to Doernbecher.

We have all heard the saying, “Christmas is a time of giving.” For my family, this resonates in the back of our minds for the three days following Thanksgiving when we are setting up our Christmas lights. We think of all of the joy and cheer that the lights bring. If we can make just one person happy and smile, we feel that it was worth our time.

The lights are up and we are hoping to have many visitors.The video below is from five years ago, and the display has changed considerably. The most notable change is that we have more lights! Also we don’t have the big Doernbecher sign on the roof; we donated the letters to Hudson’s Bay and they continue to use them in the “Mr. Hudson’s Bay Pageant” for Kids Making Miracles.

So please stop by, have a cup of hot chocolate and listen to some holiday music as you enjoy the lights. Santa will be stopping by 5701 Texas Drive Vancouver, WA 98661 on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013.

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David Mack
Hudson’s Bay High School graduate
Accountant at Geffen Mesher and Co.

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The Mr. Hudson’s Bay High School Kids Making Miracles fundraiser has supported OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital since 1992, raising more than $800,000 to support the area of greatest need. These critical fund help:

  • Develop new clinical services.
  • Fund innovative research programs
  • Test new treatments for serious childhood diseases.
  • Address immediate children’s health care needs and take advantage of unanticipated opportunities.

For more information about KMM or to start a fundraiser at your school, please contact the Doernbecher Foundation office or e-mail dchfinfo@ohsu.edu.

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Comments

  1. Wow! I remember all the Wilson kids, led by my darling daughter, doing the same fundraising! Such a cool thing for teenagers to be involved in. Changes your life, for the better, rest of your life.

About the Author

Tamara Hargens-Bradley is Associate Director of Media Relations for Oregon Health & Science University, OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital. She is the editor of the Healthy Families blog.
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