There were some fresh young faces at Monday night's Board of Selectmen meeting. A group of 25 students from Marshall Simonds Middle School, all part of the socially-minded Teen LIGHT Leadership Team, who came to speak to town leaders on an upcoming fundraising event.
When their turn came to speak the students lined up in front of the board to make their case. The students spoke in turn, each reading a short part of the presentation and request. They asked the Board for permission to use the Town Commons and a walking route in the area for a 5K walk-a-thon on Saturday, June 2, with a rain date of Saturday, June 16. Registration for the walk is set for 9:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. Following the walk there will be a gathering on the Town Commons with food and entertainment.
The students explained that each year Teen LIGHT chooses a different cause to focus on and for which to raise funds and awareness. In the group's first year three years ago, all proceeds from their work went to Riverside Community Care in their efforts to help with teen depression and suicide. Two years ago their cause was child abuse and last year they raised funds and awareness on the issue of bullying and suicide prevention.In today the group has raised over $40,000 in the past three years and have received wide recognition for their efforts.
This year's Teen LIGHT group is focusing on children and illness. During the presentation to the board, they explained that the funds raised by the walk-a-thon and other fundraising events this year will be used in three different ways to benefit this cause. First, they will donate funds to one or more organizations that work on childhood illness. Second, they will provide financial assistance to a family in need and, third, they will spend some of the funds to pay the transportation costs for a field trip to volunteer at a hospital.
Last year's Teen LIGHT Walk-A-Thon drew a large crowd and raised roughly $10,000. This year the students are hoping to exceed that number. Along with the 5K walk, the students will make snacks, beverages and entertainment available and all additional funds raised at the gathering on the Commons following the walk will also go towards children illness. Entertainment will include a dunk tank, a Moonbounce, a DJ and a live band. Food will include pizza, cotton candy, beverages and water.
"Teen LIGHT hopes to inspire students to look pack their differences, make connections with each other and discover their true natures," one student told the board.
"I know it seems like these issues are difficult to deal with, and they are, but our focus is on the positive," a second student continued. "Our grade works hard and enjoys it. We feel as through we are accomplishing something important, helping teens and getting to know our classmates."
The members of the Board were more than happy to grant the students' request. They also heaped well-deserved praise on the students for their effort and dedication to making a difference.
"I'd like to thank you for what you’re doing, it is cool thing and a good thing," Selectmen Bob Hogan said.
"This is the start of voluntarism," Selectman Daniel DiTucci added. "Your parents should be very proud of you. Congratulations."
Chairman of the Board Walter Zenkin echoed the praise of his colleagues.
"I know a lot of you from when you were younger and its great to see how you’ve matured," he said. "Volunteering is what makes Burlington so great. We have a lot of groups and committees that help each other and that is what makes a community strong. Thank you and congratulations for what you're doing."
With this article you will find a picture of the students speaking to the board and pictures from last year's walk-a-thon. Burlington Patch will continue to bring updates on Teen LIGHT's fundraising efforts and projects.