National Honor Society raises $14,000 towards Hydrocephalus Association


New teachers, classes and people —the beginning of every school year can seem both exciting and overwhelming. Amidst the initial school jitters is an event that helps brings unity within the school as well the community: Spirit Fest.

Preparation starts months before the actual event. At the end of the previous school year, NHS (National Honor Society) members listened to representatives and voted for 10-15 charities. The new NHS executive board hosted another meeting and narrowed it down to eight charities. Finally, NHS members voted for one charity from the selected eight.

“We had lots of options like Bernie’s Book Bank, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, and the Hydrocephalus Association,” NHS President Tiffany Sheu ’16 said. We got input from NHS member Megan Rivkin whose younger brother, Brady, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus.

According to the Hydrocephalus Association, an estimated one to two of every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus, an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, making it as common as Down syndrome. It is also the most common reason for children to get brain surgery.

“Brady had a brain bleed when he was born,” Megan Rivkin ’16 said. “After, there was scar tissue there, and it blocked off his fourth ventricle from normally draining. That’s not how everyone’s is, but that’s Brady’s case.”

The most common treatment is a surgically inserted shunt, a tube that drains the cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricle in the brain to the stomach and becomes a part of the body fluids again. The shunt, however, is only a treatment and not a cure.

The average lifespan of a shunt is two years, meaning someone with hydrocephalus would likely need to get surgery every two years. Rivkin said Brady had about nine surgeries and hasn’t had a brain surgery in three years.

“Even though his case isn’t so bad anymore, it could get bad in a heartbeat,” Rivkin said. “It made me want to work to support the association, and it’s also inspired me a lot to do social justice work.”

Rivkin said she was going to Washington DC to a national medical research rally event to lobby for more research for hydrocephalus. Over 300 national organizations came together to raise awareness about the importance of funding for medical research.

“I think an event like this empowers their family,” NHS sponsor Brett Erdmann said. “The fundraised money will go towards research for treatments that will hopefully alleviate pain and maybe lead to finding a cure.”

With Rivkin’s efforts to raise awareness, approximately 150 NHS members volunteered during each of the three shifts at Spirit Fest.

“To have an entire school, the entire community, rally behind one cause, is pretty powerful. We were really able to stick with our motto this year which was ‘Heading toward hope’,” Sheu said.

Over 1000 people participated at Spirit Fest on Sept. 12. A total of approximately $14,000 was raised towards the Hydrocephalus Association and Stevenson KIN Fund.

“This year has meant a lot to my family, and NHS has been nothing but supportive and amazing,” Rivkin said. “I want to give my appreciation, and I hope that in the future they select another charity that has a community impact, and they are treated the exact same way my family was and get a change for the better.”