At Elkin Elementary School, when fourth-grader Luke Norman saw a girl in need, he decided to make a difference.
Elkin Elementary School student Hope Swaim has limited use of her body and is physically fragile.
Last school year, Swaim had the opportunity to access a special adaptive tricycle that gave her much more mobility, allowing her to pedal around on her own. However, the tricycle was on loan and only available through the school. After seeking other ways of obtaining the tricycle, it was also found that Swaim’s insurance would not cover the funds.
After seeing the joy it brought the little girl, Norman went home and told his mother, Emily Norman, about the dilemma. Luke decided that he wanted to raise money so Swaim could have her very own tricycle, at home as well as at school.
“Life’s not always fair to people like Hope,” said Emily Norman. “That doesn’t mean nothing can be changed.”
Norman and his mother began immediately spreading the word about Swaim’s tricycle, naming the campaign “Wheels for Hope.” The first steps involved setting up an account at Wells Fargo Bank, which was open for anyone to make donations.
From there, the effort spread by community connections and word of mouth. Emily Norman and her husband, Rodney, sent out emails to coworkers and friends explaining Swaim’s need, and they in turn sent messages to their friends, creating a domino effect. Emily Norman also took advantage of social media like Facebook to gain donations for the tricycle.
Luke Norman even prepared his own message to broadcast on WELK, which is Elkin Elementary School’s daily televised news program, and reached out to students and staff for their help. The response of teachers and students was great. Donations were taken up in classrooms, whether it was in the form of checks or loose change.
“We were so blessed with all the overwhelming support, and it mattered so much to Luke that he saw Hope finally get her tricycle,” said Emily Norman.
Due to all of the contributors to Swaim’s charity, the funds were available to purchase the special tricycle in the early winter of 2012, but Swaim was hospitalized and unable to enjoy her gift.
After a long recovery period, she was finally able to enjoy her own tricycle at home in the spring.
Emily Norman says her son also received a great deal from the experience.
“The best thing about this whole process was how everyone was connected in supporting Hope, even people who didn’t personally know her,” she said. “We were so blessed from all the support, and the lessons that Luke learned from his show of compassion will stay with him forever.”