Building hope with LEGOs

Students and staff at Chautauqua Lake Central School display over 200 pounds of LEGOs collected for children at Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, to support a service project initiated by eighth grader Drake McKane (center). For over a year, Drake has received treatments for leukemia at the hospital. From left are eighth graders Hallie Boardman; Jenna Harle, class treasurer; Emma Gleason; Joseph Orton; and Jacob Hess; secondary school principal Josh Liddell; Drake McKane; superintendent Ben Spitzer; eighth graders Brett Meadows and Hunter McCaslin, class president and vice president, respectively; student Kaitlin Spoon; class advisor Mike Rohlin; and guidance counselor Jason Richardson. On the floor in front of the LEGOs is a giant card of well wishes for the McKane family.

Students at Chautauqua Lake Secondary School, led by the Junior Student Council, recently collected over 200 pounds of new and used LEGOs to support a drive initiated by eighth grader Drake McKane and his family.

The building toys were distributed to patients at Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, where Drake, who has battled leukemia for over a year, has spent countless days, nights and hours receiving chemotherapy and blood products.

According to his parents, Debbie and John McKane, “One thing Drake found fun doing during his treatments was putting together LEGOs. Not only did it keep him content, it was also therapeutic for his hands and kept his muscles working.”

Drake and his family launched the LEGO drive and invited the school community to help him “spread the joy to other kids going through cancer at Oishei Children’s Hospital, to help them pass the time away.”

At Chautauqua Lake, the student sponsors dubbed the project “Drake’s Journey: Building Hope with LEGOs.” Each grade level, 7 through 12, competed to see which class could donate the most LEGOs by weight. Faculty and staff also teamed up to compete with the students. Ultimately, Drake’s fellow eighth graders donated 62.5 pounds of LEGOs, more than any other group and nearly one-third of the total collected.

The new LEGO sets were distributed to children on Drake’s floor at Oishei Children’s Hospital. Used LEGOs were sterilized and distributed at the hospital’s outpatient clinics.