Feature Stories

Minnetonka Students Show Team Spirit By Giving Back
Minnetonka Students Show Team Spirit By Giving Back

A Minnetonka eighth grade boys basketball team is paying it forward and showing us all what it means to "do the right thing" in our daily lives.

As part of a fundraiser for the traveling basketball program, the boys went through a series of drills and stations where they were assessed on their basketball skills at each one. Later, they were each given a number a tickets based on their performance and were able to enter each ticket in a raffle. Prizes for the raffles ranged from customizable Nike shoes, to Timberwolves tickets, to Beat headphones. In the end, though, it wasn't the flashy electronics or signed basketballs that drew in the tickets of the team; it was a shiny green trike, a trike that would later be gifted to the students from the special ed room at Excelsior Elementary.

"I am so impressed with the selflessness these boys showed by choosing to do something for kids they never met," says Kelley Pederson, special education teacher at Excelsior and mother of one of the boys on the team. "They could have put their raffle tickets in boxes to win things for themselves but chose to try to win something for my group. This is a testament to their generous spirit and caring nature."

Ms. Pederson, who was the first to notice the trike, pointed it out to her son, Samuel, talking about how much she thought her kids would love it. Samuel immediately decided to enter all of his tickets for the bike raffle, and the other boys, including some who weren't even on Samuel's team, were quick to follow.

In the end, it was Jacob McCalla who won the trike. Last Friday, he delivered it personally to Ms. Pederson's classroom, where he was able to meet some of the kids and see them test it out. Many of the students have physical and cognitive disabilities that make running very difficult for them. Getting to ride the bike was an exceptionally special experience, as is shown in the huge smiles on their faces. More than anything, though, the act of gifting the trike is a reminder for the students that they are loved and appreciated by the community.

"I believe our community can all learn something from these 8th graders," says Ms. Pederson. "These boys thought their act of putting the raffle tickets into a box was a simple one, but the impact of that act was profound. The joy the bike brings now and will bring in the future is huge."

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