Raider Reps Raise Money for Make-a-Wish via Teachers vs. Students Games

Raider Reps Derieona Johnson and Malakai Willis speak live on the radio during KTCS 999’s Mid-South Make-a-Wish Radiothon.

With his deep “radio voice,” Malakai Willis, 8th, announced Kimmons’ 2023 donation of $1,600 to the local Make-a-Wish Foundation during KTCS 999’s Mid-South Radiothon. Disc Jockey Brad Kelly thanked the “room full of angels” for their dedication to the cause.

Ms. Ehnle, Raider Reps sponsor, first began the teachers vs. students Volleyball and Basketball game fundraiser in 2015, so that her club could provide entertainment while also having a community service project.

“We chose the Make-a-Wish Foundation for our service project because of the connection to children and our local community,” Ms. Ehnle said. “The money raised grants a special wish to children with a critical illness. Kids have requested dirt bikes, meet a Disney princess, remodel a bedroom in a Star Wars theme, or a family vacation since they had never gone on one before.”

Over the past eight years, Kimmons has donated a grand total of $13,000!

“I am proud that Kimmons has continued to support Make-a-Wish, and we are the only school in Fort Smith who does so,” Ms. Ehnle said.

Leah Facio, 8th, played in the Volleyball and Basketball games.

“I strongly believe in what the Make-a-Wish Foundation stands for,” Leah said. “Playing against the teachers was a great experience. The best part is that it was for a good cause.”

Derieona Johnson, 8th, also played in both games, which she thought was super fun.

“The most challenging part was that the teachers were a lot bigger, stronger, and more experienced,” Derieona said. “Actually, we could have really beat them, but we just let them win.”

His love for sports inspired Malakai to play in both the Volleyball and Basketball games.

“The main reason I joined in on the Basketball game was because the teachers kept talking crazy,” Malakai said. “The most challenging part was when we started to lose. We could have given up and lost hope, but we didn’t.”

Knowing what the Make-a-Wish kids go through inspired Ky’Rell Black, 8th, to play both games.

“The most challenging part in the Basketball game was stopping Ms. Kursh because her footwork and skill was just unstoppable,” Ky’Rell said. “My favorite part was knowing that even though we lost, the game was for a good cause.”

Even though Jameriah Releford, 8th, liked getting to help others in need, she did not find the Basketball game to be challenging.

“Oh wait, Ms. Kursh!” Jameriah said.

Derieona’s favorite part of the Basketball game was having the whole school cheer very loudly for teachers and students.

“It encouraged me to play harder and keep motivated,” Derieona said.

Cayden Dye, 8th, enjoyed hearing Mrs. Medlock introduce the student athletes.

“I felt like a celebrity when everyone was cheering,” Cayden said.

Malakai’s favorite part was his layup on Coach Cash.

“Everyone in the school saw it, and Coach Cash even said it was my best layup of the year,” Malakai said.

Zalika Edwards’s favorite part of the Basketball game was the thrill and competitiveness.

“It gave us the chance to breathe, have fun, and gave us a break from school work,” Zalika said. “The most challenging part was guarding the teachers, mainly Ms. Kursh. She is bigger and stronger than me.”

Monterius Hunt, 8th, agreed that guarding Ms. Kursh, along with Coach Arnold, was difficult.

“They just slid right through!” Monterius said.

Mr. Hornung enjoyed seeing Ms. Kursh dominate kids in the paint.

“Students like to run their mouths thinking they can beat us teachers,” Mr. Hornung said. “They will never win against us.”

For Mr. Hornung, the biggest challenge was staying in shape.

“Most of us teachers haven’t played an actual game of basketball in a decade or more,” Mr. Hornung said. “It brings me joy knowing these students practice basketball everyday during the season and they still can’t beat us old people.”

Ms. Parnell, who has played in the Make-a-Wish Volleyball and Basketball games for all eight years, enjoyed winning.

“The biggest challenge playing against the kids is that I can sometimes play aggressive, and I have to remember to tone it down, so I don’t hurt anyone!” Ms. Parnell said.

Mr. Brown’s favorite moment in the Volleyball game was watching everyone’s signature serving styles.

“The biggest challenge was definitely my knees because I’m old,” Mr. Brown said.

Coach Arnold enjoyed getting to play with the kids he has built a special bond with, especially since they are the first group he ever really started with as a teacher and coach.

“I love them like they are my own,” Coach Arnold said. “Knowing that we were able to do something special for Make-a-Wish is always a huge thing for me! Two years, two W’s, and Malakai Willis will always know that I have his water bottle in my backpack.”

Assistant Principal Kursh wasn’t sure about playing at first but ultimately was glad she did.

“It was fun to compete again and bring so much joy to our kids,” Ms. Kursh said. “I’m most proud of how our students showed up for a fun, giving event.”

Dr. Hinkle, principal, was most proud of the opportunity for the KMS family to give back to the community.

“Also, being able to have the students and teachers interact in a different arena provided a platform to strengthen meaningful relationships, which we all know are essential to a successful learning environment,” Dr. Hinkle said.

99.9 KTCS