Incoming first-year student Hunter Leighton ’19, of Sugar Hill, N.H., is in the national spotlight, including a recent interview on Fox News Insider, for his efforts in donating funds he and his classmates had raised for their senior trip to their high school principal, Courtney Vashaw, who was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer.
“We were talking about Ms. Vashaw and how she had recently told the school about her condition,” Leighton shares with Fox News. “The idea popped into our heads that instead of going on our senior trip, why not try and help a person that we love, Ms. Vashaw?”
Leighton and his friend, Ian Baker, posted the idea to their Class’ Facebook page and the response in support of their idea was immediate.
“We are just trying to do a good thing for someone who has cared for us,” Leighton says. “Our class decided to do an amazing thing, and it impacted the world only for a moment, but in that moment the world became a better place.”
Vashaw assumed she would be attending a senior class meeting but instead was surprised by the class announcing that the money they raised – almost $8,000 – will go toward her medical care. A television crew from Manchester, N.H.-based WMUR-TV was there to capture the event.
“She’s one of the strongest, most determined women I know,” Leighton tells WMUR-TV.
The Fox News interview has received more than 17,000 views on Facebook, and the Profile School community is continuing to collect donations on gofundme.com. According to the website, any funds that remain after Vashaw’s treatment and care will go to Synovial Sarcoma Research and any cancer research of Vashaw’s choice. The project has raised $9,689 so far of a $10,000 goal. “We are hoping to raise more for her cause,” Leighton says.
In addition to Fox News and WMUR-TV, Leighton was quoted in TomorroWoman and featured on a Buzzfeed article as a gif. He and his classmates have been acknowledged and invited to several places including Loon Mountain’s Aerial Adventure Park, Alpine Adventures, and the Ridin Hy Ranch and Resort for a free senior class trip.
After her surprise, Vashaw described Leighton and his classmates as “a pretty remarkable, fun, astonishing group of people” to WMUR-TV.
Leighton recently graduated from Profile Junior-Senior High School in Bethlehem, N.H., where he was a three-sport athlete and graduated as an NH Scholar. He will attend HWS in the fall 2015 semester.