Boys Shave Heads in Support of Classmate

TOPEKA, Kan. - A Washburn Rural Middle School student who has started a community effort to help one of his seriously ill classmates, finally met the family he's helping out.

Drake Herrman was introduced to his classmate Jessica Seidel's father, David, and little brother, Jordan on Monday.

Drake started this for Jessica because not only does she suffer from a gastrointestinal disease that makes it almost impossible for her to eat, but Jessica also started chemotherapy in November for a cancer-like disease called HLH. All this treatment means Jessica has had to stay several days at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City with her mom while her dad and brother make trips back and forth to visit when they can.

"It's just overwhelming what these kids have done for us and our family," said Dave Seidel.

Neither Dave nor Herrman could have known how big a response Drake's story of generosity would get.

When the community heard how Drake asked his mom to donate money spent for a Wii for Christmas to his classmate Jessica, the community followed suit.

"I'm just surprised that so many people would come out and give to help Jessica even though some people haven't met her," said Drake.

Drake was excited to finally meet Dave. "It's really exciting and just makes me glad that i did this and that everyone can help out."

While Jessica's mom, Leslie, stays with her in Kansas City, her dad and 8-year-old brother Jordan try to carry-on lives in Topeka until they can make a trip back to see her.

The traveling is taking a toll on the whole family, especially Jordan. "Real tough because I just wanna stay home with my dad but he has to work and I have to spend the night at someone's house," said Jordan.

That's because Dave has to work some nights. "Bills don't stop and I have to work," he said. "I'm the only one working. But it's not fair to him."
helping pay the bills was the initial goal behind drake's good deed... which didn't go unnoticed.

Not only did the community rally around the Seidels by collecting numerous donations and setting up a fund at Heritage Bank, 3024 SW Wanamaker Rd, Topeka, but Best Buy and a secret santa both came forward to donate Wii's to Drake's family for his self-lessness on Christmas.

"I'm glad I got the Wii," said Drake. "It's cool and exciting but this should be focused on Jessica because she needs help and just to stay strong and she needs to know everyone's there for her."

Drake's second Wii will be put up for auction to help raise more money for Jessica and her family. Another donor gave money to throw in an i-Touch for the raffle.

Dave said he and his family appreciate the money and all the people who keep them in their thoughts. "All the prayers and everything have paid off so please keep praying. That's all we ask," he said. "We appreciate everything."

After the trip to Best Buy Monday, Drake and his friends decided to drum up more attention for next week's rally of the Wii and i-Touch. Seven of the Washburn Rural Middle School basketball team members got together and shaved their heads because Jessica will lose her hair. Anytime someone asks why they shaved, they plan to use it as an opportunity to drum up more support for Jessica.

You can read updates on Jessica's condition on her web page http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessica16


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