John Means takes college classes in the morning and NUAMES classes in the afternoon, plays video games in his spare time and has dialysis sessions seven nights a week while awaiting a kidney transplant.
Means was diagnosed with kidney failure about a month ago at 16 years old.
To help pay for his $100,000 transplant surgery, the NUAMES Interact Club is hosting a series of fundraising events at the WSU Davis campus.
“It’s kind of weird because I’m not used to having people help me with anything, but I like it,” Means said. “It’s really nice to have the support.”
On Dec. 12, the Interact Club will hold a gift-wrapping service, where students and the community will have the opportunity to get holiday presents wrapped and donate money to Means’ cause.
On Dec. 19, the club will put on an assembly with special guests and prize drawings.
A dollar war will also be held among the grades at NUAMES to see who can raise the most money.
“Interact is all about helping people,” said Myla Andersen, the Interact Club vice president. “And we want the entire community involved.”
Andersen says the club’s goal is to raise $7,000 for Means’ transplant surgery. Means is hoping for a living donor transplant from his sister.
Everyone is invited to attend the fundraising events, including students, faculty, staff and community members.
“This project takes a lot of heart, and NUAMES has a lot of heart,” Andersen said. “We are watching out for our own.”
Means says the news of his kidney failure didn’t come as a total surprise. He knew something had to be wrong because he had been feeling sick for a while.
“I went to the hospital because I was all swollen and I felt like I was just really out of shape,” Means said. “When I got to the doctors, they said my lungs were filled with fluid and my heart was going at a mile’s pace.”
Despite his diagnosis, Means says he is taking everything in stride. Numerous doctor visits and appointments have not stopped him from maintaining straight A’s in all of his classes.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that he had kidney failure until I heard it from another friend of ours, so he never let it affect him,” Andersen said of her friend. “John is just such a nice person and to help him in any way we can would just be amazing.”
Andersen said she loves seeing people at their best, and that often occurs when they are helping out their community. She hopes the fundraising events will provide an opportunity for everyone to share their support.
“NUAMES is a smaller charter school, we only have 650 students,” said Lori Drake, the Interact Club adviser and NUAMES counselor. “We’re kind of a family here, so when someone is in dire straits and needs help, we figured that would be a great project for the whole school.”
Drake says she has a passion for service and has enjoyed watching the Interact Club plan different events.
“It’s been a joy to watch the students organize all these events to raise the money that John needs for his surgery,” Drake said. “I am very proud of the leadership of the Interact Club and the way that they’ve volunteered to take this on.”