Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘Not the daredevil type’: York High School’s principal will go skydiving after students reach fundraising goals

York High School seniors Nicholas Searcy and Nichole Springhorn raised more than $20,000 for cancer research, and in doing so they convinced their principal to go skydiving. (Courtesy Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)
York High School seniors Nicholas Searcy and Nichole Springhorn raised more than $20,000 for cancer research, and in doing so they convinced their principal to go skydiving. (Courtesy Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)

Not only did York High School seniors Nicholas Searcy and Nichole Springhorn raise more than $20,000 for cancer research, but in doing so they also convinced their principal to become a daredevil.

York High School Principal Dr. Shannon Butler will go skydiving for the first time in her life Saturday, after promising to do so if the students raised more than $15,000 in their fundraising campaign.

She said she’s not afraid of heights, but…

“Am I afraid of jumping out of planes? Yes,” Butler said.

Springhorn and Searcy spearheaded a fundraising drive, named Team York Cares, after they were nominated for the Students of the Year competition run by the Virginia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The pair were named Virginia Students of the Year in March after they raised more money for blood cancer research than other students across the commonwealth.

The Team York Cares campaign began the first week in February, and the duo said they were mulling a few ideas to get Butler involved in the campaign to drum up enthusiasm in the school community. Their ideas ranged from asking her to agree to take a pie to the face or be dropped into a dunk tank if their fundraising goals were met.

Dr. Shannon Butler, principal of York High School, will jump out of a plane Saturday. (Courtesy York County School Division)
Dr. Shannon Butler, principal of York High School, will jump out of a plane Saturday. (Courtesy York County School Division)

“Then we looked up ideas online and thought, why not go big?” Searcy said.

That’s when they asked Butler to go skydiving.

After all, “Who doesn’t want to see their principal jump out of a plane?” Springhorn said.

Butler said her mother is a survivor of lymphoma, and while she said she’s “not the daredevil type,” she was happy to support the students and their cause.

“They had this great idea, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,’” Butler said. “I agreed to do it, part of me thinking it would never really happen, and now it’s a lot more of a reality and it’s a little scarier.”

She added some members of the school community were in disbelief that she agreed, and parents and teachers repeatedly asked her if she was really going to jump out of an airplane.

“That was a big push that everyone wanted to see,” Springhorn said. “Everyone kept asking us, ‘Is she going to go [skydiving]? Are we close?’”

Searcy and Springhorn agreed that without Butler’s pledge, they would not have been able to reach their fundraising goal or be named Students of the Year.

Fundraising efforts included a golf outing, a spare change collection, and taking donations at a pancake day at school, a charity dodgeball tournament and the student-teacher basketball game.

Springhorn said they hung a poster on the wall at school, and they made additions to the poster every time they raised $2,500.

By the time the campaign ended March 24, they had exceeded their goals by more than $5,000.

When the candidates convened for the naming of winners in Richmond March 25, neither Searcy nor Springhorn were sure if they had raised enough money to take home first place and be named Virginia’s Students of the Year.

Then their names were called.

“I didn’t expect it, it was close,” Springhorn said of the competition. “To hear we won and everything paid off was shocking. I had a lot of people tell me when I got off the stage, ‘You should’ve seen your face.’”

True to her word, Butler’s plane departs Saturday morning at Skydive Suffolk.

“I’m scared to death – no doubt about that – but I would do pretty much anything for these kids,” Butler said. “I’m really proud of them.”

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