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Flipping for St. Jude

Brianna Saevitzon was inspired by a television commercial for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to lead a Push-up/Pull-up Challenge fundraiser at her California school.

Brianna Saevitzon was told at an early age that, because of a medical condition, she would need to accept certain physical limitations. The warnings had the opposite effect.

“She refused to be ‘labeled’ and focused on going through obstacles, not around them,” said her father, Brett Saevitzon, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., of his now 11-year-old daughter. The Saevitzons, Brett and Jiran, have four children ranging in ages from 10 to 22.

Brianna’s determination proved tremendously helpful when she began to tackle her first fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after watching a television commercial featuring children who looked just like her fighting cancer.

The pain and anguish of what the kids were going through struck a deep cord and she would not let go. She spoke non-stop about raising money.
Brett, Brianna's father

Push Up Challenge poster

Brianna hung posters up around school ahead of the fundraiser.

Those funds are vital since families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

A gymnast who has hopes of one day competing in the Olympics, Brianna approached her gymnastics coaches about conducting a fundraiser. They were reluctant at first.

Undeterred, she talked to leadership at her school, Adat Ari El Center for Education, and proposed a Push-up/Pull-up Challenge with students sponsored by friends and family. Brianna, a 5th grader, has held the school’s pull-up record for both boys and girls since 3rd grade, but she wanted an event where all her peers could participate. 

“She added push-ups to the challenge to give everybody a chance,” he said. The school agreed to the fundraiser provided Brianna do all the work.

Brianna created posters, talked up the idea to students at every opportunity and set a goal of raising $5,000. To reach that goal, she proposed that each student recruit five sponsors at a minimum of $10 each.

Brianna with poster poster

Brianna was given permission to hold the fundraiser provided she handled all of the promotion and fundraising. She created posters and talked to her fellow students at every opportunity. 

In total, 135 of Brianna’s classmates participated in the contest held during school hours and raised more than $5,000. Her goal next is 100 percent participation and doubling the donation, Brett said. 


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