Students step up and deliver

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- "I don't know if there are words to explain exactly how I feel about it, without sounding corny," Tino Banuelos said.

In December, Central High School students organized a series of fund-raising efforts on behalf of Tino's younger brother, Peter Banuelos, who suffers from a liver disorder and is in need of a transplant.

After a week of bake sales, donation collection jars and other activities, students had raised more than $3,600 that will go toward expenses associated with Peter Banuelos's anticipated surgery.

"The fact that kids took it upon themselves to do something for Peter," said Tino Banuelos, an officer for the Independence Police Department, "is so nice ... it's just an incredibly thoughtful thing for them to do."

Peter Banuelos, a sophomore at Oregon State University and a 2004 Central High graduate, was diagnosed in 2001 with a disorder called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

The disease causes the bile ducts inside and outside the liver to become scarred, and cause bile-build up which can damage cells and cause liver failure.

Peter Banuelos has been placed on a transplant waiting list -- he's No. 6 -- at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Tino Banuelos said the family is also attempting to get on a live donor program at the University of Colorado. If that is successful, Peter and other family members will have to travel to Denver for extended periods for tests.

Members of Central High's student government planned a number of fund raisers from Dec. 12 to 16 after learning of the donor testing. They wanted to raise moiney to cover travel and lodging costs.

They organized a dance, baked cookies, held a raffle, hired themselves out as gift wrappers, placed collection jars in classrooms in Central district schools, and even set up a bank account to receive donations, said Elizabeth Perry, Central's senior class president.

"It started out humbly with students in a leadership class and spread thoughout the community," she said. "It goes to show how many people care about Peter."

Insurance will pay for most of Peter's surgery, Tino Banuelos said. The $3,600 raised by the high school will cover travel and lodging for the first and, if necessary, second trips to Denver.

"It's a huge help," Tino Banuelos said.

Community members can make donations to the Peter Banuelos Medical Fund at any Branch of OSU Federal Credit Union.


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