Sarah Meers loves the color pink. The Mt. Juliet Middle School gym was a sea of pink Friday afternoon with most of the student body dressed in shades of pink in salute to Sarah, 12, on this special day when she had a surprise that had her nearly speechless.
Sixth grader Sarah suffers from leukemia and the big surprise that had the entire student body 'mums the word' was presented by Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee. Sarah, an aspiring fashion designer, when asked for a favorite wish responded she's always dreamed of going to Paris, France.
With that in mind, MJMS students raised a large amount of money to help make this dream come true. For two weeks they sold paper Make-A-Wish stars as part of the Kids for Wish initiative. They also got together on personal fundraising projects and the grand total toward their classmate's wish was more than $5,600. Some of that money was raised at a couple basketball games.
"We are very proud of our students at MJMS and the community for supporting Sarah," said Ashley Putman-Serbian, student council advisor of Mt. Juliet Middle School. "We are very excited to help grant her wish. Our students do not even know the grand total they raised. We wanted that to be a surprise for them."
With banners and cheerleaders, balloons and music, Sarah, donned in a pink ball cap, held her friend Barrett's hand and flanked by mom, Amanda, and dad, Greg, walked into the crowded gym.
"I'm so happy for Sarah," whispered Barrett. "I haven't seen her for so long. I miss her."
They walked a lap around the gym to cheers and tears. Sarah was presented a bound book of get well cards and notes.
"She's just a sweet heart and so humble," a teacher noted. "She was going through chemo and it broke our hearts. She's such a fighter."
Sarah's teacher, Johnathan Wilson, helped plan the surprise and told the young girl she was just coming to visit her friends in gym class. He explained the surprise had been canceled on Tuesday because Sarah was not feeling well enough to attend. She was full force Friday, a tremulous smile on her face as she felt the love. Her father and mother sat next to her during the ceremony. Dad Greg kept a steady hand on her knee and smiled as he gazed at her realization of what was happening.
The family held the large poster check and watched as the cheerleaders presented a banner that read, "You are going Sarah." Each class group shouted a message that said, "Dreams Come True."
"I was so excited to have MJMS on board this year as a Kids For Wish Kids school," said Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee Development Manager, Grace Bingham. "We love the students' philanthropic hearts and the way they supported their classmate through their efforts. We look forward to working with even more schools in Middle Tennessee as we continue to grow our Kids For Wish Kids program."
Sarah's parents and brother hope to make the trip to France in June. Wilson said the outpouring of support certainly didn't surprise him.
"That's the character of Mt. Juliet Middle School," he said.
When asked how she felt, Sarah smiled.
"Yes, I was very surprised," she said.