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Help SLFCU Provide Learning Opportunities for Hospitalized Children 8/28/2019

Former UNMCH Patient, WillSLFCU is committed to raising $80,000 in 2019 to employ a full-time teacher for patients in the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital (UNMCH). Together with our members, we can help fund a dedicated teacher position for the next ten years and beyond to help kids continue their education.

Meet Will, a former UNMCH patient. He was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age nine. With this extremely rare disease, a person’s bone marrow stops producing enough new blood cells. Severe cases often require a bone marrow transplant. Once a suitable donor is secured, the patient’s diseased bone marrow is depleted through radiation or chemotherapy.

Will underwent a bone marrow transplant. Steroids were then used to fight an ensuing graft-versus-host disease. “The isolation I felt while in the bone marrow transplant unit was awful,” he notes. “Initially, the ’silver lining’ of my diagnosis was that I wouldn't be going to school; but I quickly learned sitting around is tedious and boring. Having a teacher to interact with would have helped me focus on something positive and maybe even motivated me to learn. I needed to be challenged by someone with a fresh perspective, and I couldn’t get that from my worried family.”

At age 12, Will was medically cleared to return to school, where he enjoyed the support of his middle school classmates and teachers. His charter high school, however, was too challenging: the self-paced, online lessons provided little opportunity to ask questions or engage in classroom discussions. Frustrated and feeling “crummy” from his residual health issues, Will’s stress compounded, and he developed insomnia.

Eventually, he decided to drop out of school. Will is not alone – research shows the high school drop-out rate for children with four years of health-related chronic absenteeism is 61 percent.1

When Will felt better, he studied to earn his GED. He then enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College, where he recently completed his freshman year. “I’ve really enjoyed my college classes, even the online courses,” said Will. “I wanted to continue my schooling. I realized education was the only way I could qualify for the jobs that interested me. I want to be a high school history teacher or attend seminary school. I used to see people accomplishing everyday things and think ‘Man, I could NEVER do that!’ but now I challenge myself to say ‘yes.’”


To help us reach our fundraising goal, you can:

  • Buy a Hope Heart for $1 or more in New Mexico branches from any SLFCU Teller.
  • Purchase a Sandy the Lab stuffed animal in New Mexico branches* for a donation of $20 or more.
  • Donate by calling us at 505.293.0500 or sending a secure message in online or mobile banking.
  • Join us at one of our local fundraising events.

* In California, proceeds from Sandy the Lab stuffed animal sales will benefit UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

1. Henderson, T., Hill, C., and Norton, K. (2014). The connection between missing school and health: A review of chronic absenteeism and student health in Oregon.

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