Highland Elementary second grader, Leia Almarayati, decided that she wanted to collect the most money for the Cardinal Flight, the annual run held Sept. 22 and sponsored by the school’s parent club. When the final dollar was counted, the determined seven-year-old’s donations topped the chart at $1,240; outdoing her fellow classmates for the grand prize.
Her desire to be the top fundraiser at Highland School motivated her to go door-to-door in her neighborhood every day after school during the two-week drive. She said she also wanted to help her school. “I’m excited to see what new stuff will be added with the money we collected,” she said. Leia noted that she liked the idea of being featured in Sylvania AdVantage and was very happy to earn the privilege of covering a teacher with silly string.
Many days she’d don rollerblades to introduce herself to those she didn’t know and explain what the fund drive was all about. “I could only visit people in my neighborhood because I’m not allowed to go any further,” she explained. Her parents, Waleed and Ban, helped a bit, too, texting friends on their daughter’s behalf.
Now that she has achieved this goal, she can return to the things she enjoys … playing outside with friends and spending time with her mother, father, and 1-year-old sister, Maya, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Strawberries top her list of favorite good-for-you foods and Skittles ranks high when she is munching on junk food. On fall Saturdays, Leia might just be cheering for the UM football team, whose colors she likes. “And they are winning games,” she grinned.