Middle School Student Gives Up Christmas Gift to Help Friend

TOPEKA, Kan. - The selfless act of a local middle school student is bringing a little holiday cheer to a very sick young lady.

Drake Herrman, 13, a student at Washburn Rural Middle School, asked his mom to return an expensive Christmas gift and give the money to one of his classmates who is suffering from a rare blood cell disorder.

Jessica Seidel made it through 12 days of seventh grade this school year before her illness became too much for her to continue. Jessica suffers from a rare disease that's damaged her gastrointestinal tract.
She also began chemotherapy in November for the syndrome HLH.

Drake said Jessica could only come to school for a couple classes, including the science class they were in together. "Her parents and my teacher said it's the worst that it's been for a while." Because Jessica's family is making frequent trips between Topeka and Kansas City to Children's Mercy Hospital, Drake decided to take action to help.

"My brother and sister and I got a Wii for Christmas," he said. "But we decided that it'd be more important if she could have the money for her parents for gas money and stuff." Drake said he did have to do a little convincing to get his five and six year old siblings on board with the plan.

"I told them that we'll have other Christmas presents and that she'd be really excited and happy and that her parents would like it," Drake said. The humble seventh grader is proud of his younger siblings for agreeing to help Jessica. "I think they are good kids to be able to give up a Wii."

Drake's Washburn Rural Middle School teachers are proud of him. "Here's a kid who's giving $260 to another family," said Assistant Principal, Sam Austin. "I think it's a great example not only for kids, but probably for some adults in this world."

The missing Wii under Drake's family Christmas tree this year is well worth bringing a little holiday cheer to his classmate and her family. "It's not all about presents and stuff. It's about giving and caring for each other."

Jessica's parents update an online journal about her condition at www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessica16.


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