In an exclusive interview with Exeter High School student Ashley Hoyt, the new club at the school “Derek’s Smile” was introduced and explained. As the founder of the club, Ashley outlines the intent and activities of this exciting club as well as their hopes and wishes for the upcoming year!
What motivated you to start Derek’s Smile?
During the 6 months that my brother was battling his third brain tumor, the best feelings and memories that have stuck with me are from when he would smile. A smile can be very rare in a sick child, and so that feeling of happiness, even for just a quick second truly means so much and stays with families forever.
What hospitals do you plan to visit with the club?
The Derek’s Smile club plans to visit CHAD or Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth due to its closer proximity to Exeter High School, and I’m also hoping to take a trip to Boston Children’s Hospital. We are currently discussing a few different hospitals to get in contact with but have not reached out to any others at this time.
What do you hope to do for the kids you visit?
My main goal, as suggested in the club name is to bring smiles to children and families who are struggling with what my brother and my family have gone through. I plan to make the kids feel like they’re a normal kid just hanging out with friends (the members of our club) while playing with toys or reading books that we raise money to provide them with. I hope that they will laugh and smile so that we can sincerely know that we’ve made a difference in their life and in the lives of their family members.
When and where will the club meet?
The club began meeting on October 13th and continues to meet in the lobby area of the Guidance Office every Thursday afternoon from 2:35-3:15pm.
Do you plan to do fundraisers to raise money for certain foundations?
Yes, we plan to do fundraisers to raise money for the foundations that made Derek smile throughout his life, some of those being: St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, The Make a Wish foundation, the Ronald McDonald House and the Memphis Grizzlies House. Although we plan to do fundraisers to raise money, our main focus is the happiness of the children; so we are currently working to get Exeter students to write letters to the kids that we will be sending to St Jude patients in December. Which will hopefully directly impact the children rather than funds going to other parts of the hospitals or foundations.
Can anyone join?
Absolutely! Everyone is welcome in this club and I’d be so happy to see new faces at the meetings.
If people want to sign up for the club, where and when can they do this?
All you have to do to sign up is to show up at a meeting after school on any Thursday. I have a contact information sheet with me at the meetings that gets passed to all new members, and you will then be added to the attendance sheet and email list.