How Are Sparrows Chosen?

By: Viansa Reid

Storm students and Thunder contestants are hard at work raising money for Tytan Neff, this year’s Storm Sparrow. But what happens to the other families who applied to be a Sparrow but weren’t selected?

“[The families that aren’t selected] are very few and far between,” said Nancy Childers, the Regional Director of Sparrow. “I’ve been with Sparrow for a total of almost seven years and there is maybe one family that applied and wasn’t a good fit to be a Sparrow family. In that case, I referred them to other non-profits that may be able to help such as Family Access Network.”

Sparrow’s selection process begins with reviewing applications, calling the family to learn about the child’s condition and determining which school will sponsor the family.

“If there is a natural fit and [the future Sparrow] or a sibling goes to a school that participates in our nonprofit then their school sponsors them but if there is no specific school connection, then I know Summit or other high schools will assist our Sparrows in fundraising,” Childers said.

Sparrow staff members explain to families during the interview that they must meet the students at an assembly who will fundraise for them and create a video about their child’s disease. Occasionally, families don’t realize how public their story will be, meaning some families aren’t comfortable with participating in Sparrow.

“When they fill out an application, most families know that their story is going to be public and they know how a Sparrow project works,” Childers said.

Tytan’s family, upon submitting their application, were chosen because of the rarity of his disease and subsequent lack of research.

“[Sparrow] tends to pick a family that has a higher need for medical treatments to match a school that does additional fundraising,” Childers said.

The Storm does additional fundraising through various activities such as the Thunder Pageant and bucket passes at sports games.

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