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Caleb Amaral is 5 years old and battling a type of blood cancer. Like other young boys, Amaral loves superheroes. His wish is to go on a Disney Marvel cruise.
On Jan. 29, thanks to students and staff of Douglas County High School and surrounding feeder schools, Amaral's wish came true. Over Make-A-Wish week, students raised $47,000, which will pay for the wishes of seven children who are fighting life-threatening illnesses. Schools in Douglas County participate in the fundraising week once a year.
“Every year I am amazed by the amount of creativity, passion and effort that goes into planning and hosting Wish Week at Douglas County High School,” said Lauren Beede, director of community development at Make-A-Wish Colorado. “It is incredible to see the entire community come together to help grant wishes for kids, like Caleb, who are battling critical illnesses.”
Joined by Castle Rock police officers, SWAT members, Spiderman and Batman, Amaral entered the gymnasium of Douglas County High School riding a miniature car and wearing a Spiderman costume. Castle Rock police Chief Jack Cauley greeted Amaral and told the young boy that he would forever be an honorary police officer of the department.
The energy in the gymnasium was overwhelming. Students and teachers from Douglas County High School and its feeder schools — which include South Ridge Elementary, Castle Rock Elementary and several others in the area — cheered, yelled and clapped for Amaral. Many wore blue shirts with a Superman logo front and center. A giant yellow “C,” for Caleb, replaced the traditional “S.”
Tiana Tinari, a senior at Douglas County High School, said the hard work that went into planning the assembly was worth it because of how much fun Amaral was having.
“I thought it was the best assembly we've ever had,” Tinari said.
Make-A-Wish week embodies compassion, empathy and a sense of community, said interim Superintendent Erin Kane.
“It's a great way for students to see past their own lives,” said Kane. “You can feel the love.”
Parent Claudia Arias had a similar outlook. Her son, a senior at Douglas County High School, acted as Spiderman in the assembly.
“It teaches them that it's not all about you, especially when you're in high school and think everything revolves around you,” Arias said. “It makes you reflect."
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