So Peyton is challenging her classmates at Lakeshore Middle School to make a difference.
“World Down Syndrome Day was (March 21), so I just want to raise money and awareness,” said Peyton, whose 10-year-old sister Chloe has Down syndrome. “We’ve done smaller things the past few years. I’ve shared presentations with classes, but this is my first big fundraiser.”
Peyton has two competitions going on at her school. First, the seventh-graders are battling Peyton’s fellow eighth-graders in a Culver’s fundraiser. The seventh-graders had their fundraiser last week; the eighth-graders’ fundraiser is tonight.
“Culver’s is giving 10 percent of the proceeds each night to our fundraiser, and all of our money from the fundraiser goes to the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan,” Peyton said. “The seventh-grade Culver’s night was the top fundraiser Culver’s has ever had. That was amazing.”
The winning grade receives a custard party from the Grand Haven restaurant.
The second competition pits all of the Lakeshore Middle School connections (similar to a homeroom) classes against each other. Students are collecting money, and the class that collects the most will be declared the winner.
Peyton has been involved in Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ Power of Peer Support (POPS) program for several years and has worked with kids with special needs.
“She put together a presentation on her computer and goes to all the classrooms during her free period and does the presentation to bring awareness about Down syndrome,” said Peyton’s mom, Roxanne Brill. “She does that every year.”
This year, Peyton took her efforts a step further, raising money in addition to awareness. She says she does it all because of her sister, Chloe.
“I’ve met so many amazing people through my life with Down syndrome,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what Down syndrome is, so I wanted to spread awareness for that and raise money for the Down Syndrome Society of West Michigan because they help people with Down syndrome create independence.
“That’s always one of the hard things — especially when you’re in a park with other kids and they don’t understand the different things that (Chloe) does. That’s part of the reason we want to raise awareness. It’s not a disability, it’s a different ability.”
Kyle and Roxanne Brill say they’re extremely proud of what their daughter has accomplished.
“It just brings tears to my eyes,” Roxanne said. “We’re so proud to see someone as young as she is to have such a passion for this, a passion for her sister, wanting to educate people.”