WLHS leadership classes sketch out blueprints for upcoming Benny Carnival benefit


Mallory Mills

Madi Mills, senior, purchases materials for the upcoming Benny Carnival. The event will feature carnival-themed activities and service local families, especially those with a disabled individual.

As the “Bucks for Benny” campaign is introduced to West Linn High School’s student body, an upcoming Apr. 5 event meant to benefit Benny Hartley is pieced together.  This benefit, labeled by leadership students as the Benny Carnival, will involve the aid of many volunteers and feature several Shrek-themed festivities.  The event is set between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

“Bucks for Benny” is a project in which WLHS students accumulate volunteer hours that are converted to money by corporate sponsors.  Benny Hartley, the beneficiary, is a young patient who suffers from a severe form of leukemia and down-syndrome, and his family cannot afford an expensive operation.  Hartley is a fan of Shrek, the main character in a series of Dreamworks films, deciding the main theme of the carnival.

“The main focus is Benny,” Madi Mills, senior and a head of the project, said.  “The goal is to have students be able to come and volunteer to work hours.”

Festivities will be directed in the Southern end of WLHS, encompassing the commons, main gym and auxiliary gym.  The commons will be dedicated to crafts and cookie-decorating; the main gym to sports and a bounce house; and the auxiliary gym to carnival games, such as pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey using the character Donkey from the Shrek movies.  Finally, the student store will serve as a stand for carnival prizes.

“We’re trying to have enough volunteers,” Mills said. “We’re trying to help accommodate [young participants] so that it’s fun and interactive between our students and the kids, and it’s more focused on that relationship.”

Leadership plans to reach out to disabled students in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District in order to encourage their attendance to the fair; they will send evites and emails to disabled students and their families.  Jim Keen, resource officer at Wilsonville High School, will dress as Shrek and bring his daughter to the fair alongside his wife, who will dress as the character Fiona.

“We want to kids that are coming to participate to make a name tag,” Mills said.  These tags will be placed onto the Benny Board, a bulletin located near the library where hours of service are reported.

Though leadership students are occupied in trying to invite disabled students and other families in the community, they remember one key figure.

“We’re going to try to make sure that Benny is going to be at the carnival and be able to participate,” Kaylee Combs, junior and Associated Student Body member, said.  “We’re going to have activities that younger kids and older kids can play in.”

Leadership students also use Benny to remember the main purpose of their project and their mission.

“Think about Benny,” Mills said.  “Seeing Benny, his family and the struggle that they have, but also the positivity that they have, was a powerful experience.  Kids need to be open to learning from Benny.  Ultimately, I think we –as a student body- will learn more from Benny than we will be able to give to Benny.”