St. Michael Catholic School Middle Level students went “all-in” for one of their former schoolmates recently, presenting a check for $1,000 to St. Michael teen Elli Hoffmeister.
Students from Mrs. Anna Tangen’s homeroom class, who gather twice daily for GOD Time (Gathering of Disciples) each day, presented the check to Elli, 15, Tuesday, May 27 in an all-school setting.
Hoffmeister, 15, is battling Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD), a rare form of the disease that attacks children. There is no known cure, so Elli has encouraged kids in the community by living “each day with joy,” said seventh-grader Jonathan Haller, who presented her with the check.
“She was in our school, so many of us know her and who she is. It had a big impact on us. When we had the opportunity to ‘Pay it Forward,’ we thought of her,” he said.
The $1,000 gift was made possible by Bell State Bank and Trust and parent Ceri Kucera who selected Tangen’s homeroom class to be the recipient of the $1,000 gift via the bank’s “Pay it Forward” campaign. Kucera picked her son, Ryan’s, homeroom to be the class that “got to pick out” a worthy recipient of the $1,000 prize.
“That’s a valuable lesson for our students,” said STMCS Principal Jennifer Haller. “Their joint decision called for collaboration, prioritization and Christian Charity. Choosing All for Elli was extra special.”
The students, Tangen said, took the process of selecting the recipient very seriously.
“We had four or five things up on the board and we weighed the pros and cons of all of them,” Tangen said. “They were all, good, local causes. But when we got to Elli, it was no contest. We were so excited to help someone like her out, and to help her family, it was hard to keep it a secret, which they did for over a month.”
The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Tangen’s homeroom went a few steps farther. They used a recent volleyball tournament to raise awareness for the “All for Elli” cause by wearing pink and green (Elli’s favorite colors) and naming themselves the “All for Elli Ninjas.” The team even spelled out “All for Elli” in letters on the back of their shirts.
“There are a lot of big connections,” said Mary, a fifth-grader. “Her cousin is still in our school, and she’s Mrs. Berning’s niece. So she always has family here.”
“She brings joy to everyone’s lives, everyone who meets her,” said Mady, a seventh-grader. “If she’s only going to have a certain amount of time left, she’s decided she’s going to let it be happy. So she’s very deserving.”
The class and Tangen both said they’re aware what the Hoffmeister family is going to use the funds for, but they haven’t told Elli yet. They’re keeping that a big surprise.
“She’s going to be pretty excited,” Jonathan Haller said.