Lake Norman & Mooresville

Girl listened with her heart, raised money

Many of us listen, but we don't really "hear" when the radio plays during our commutes.

Sloan Dudley, 8, really listens. She hears with her heart.

Last December on the ride to school, Sloan heard a little girl's voice talk about her experience with a brain tumor. It was part of a two-day radio program sponsored by Levine Children's Hospital to raise money.

"I felt so sad for her," said Sloan. "It made my heart start pounding and it made tears come out of my eyes."

Sloan's mother, Michelle Dudley of Troutman, drives each weekday from Interstate 77 Exit 42 in Troutman to Davidson to take second-grader Sloan and her preschool sister, Morgan, to Davidson Day School.

Dudley, 41, said Sloan was "mesmerized by the little girl's voice, of her being in the hospital, her treatment and her singing."

Sloan told her mother, "We have to give lots and lots of money."

Dudley replied, "Well, we can give some money, but I don't know how much. Let's think of something we can do to get others to help. What about school?"

Sloan said she'd talk to her teacher, Tami Fuller, that day. That's exactly what Sloan did.

Fuller, 38 of Denver, has taught for 12 years, nine years at Davidson Day School.

She jumped on board, and with Bonnie Cotter, headmaster of Davidson Day School, a plan was hatched.

A plan Sloan described as "really, really fun."

The website for Levine's Children's Hospital "Make Change for Kids" suggested a milk jug be decorated to fill with coins to donate to help children like the girl who inspired Sloan.

John Tobias, director of public relations for Davidson Day School, said Sloan's enthusiasm and what she started was "infectious" and spread to the other classes.

He added that Sloan's mother is "a great volunteer" and helped with the project.

Each classroom of the Lower School decorated a milk jug. A friendly competition began. The class that raised the most money would receive an ice cream or pizza party.

In Sloan's class, 15 children decorated the milk jug. Loose change and some dollar bills from family and friends filled the milk jugs. Sloan's classroom won the competition with a milk jug that had 57 cents more than any other milk jug.

The class chose an ice cream party.

A total of $1,531.10 was raised.

Sloan presented a check to Sherri Joseph and Cacky Higgins of Carolinas HealthCare Foundation, a fundraising arm of Levine Children's Hospital and Carolina HealthCare System.

They told the children the money would be used to help children through art therapy, toys and for the therapy dog, Baker, who is professionally trained to help recuperating children learn how to walk again and to play fetch. Baker understands 100 commands; learning about the therapy dog enthralled the students.

Joseph complimented Sloan on how the "power of one" could make a big difference.

"Their donation, no matter the size, makes a difference," said Joseph.