Pine View High students raise $31K for 4-year-old with rare form of cancer

ST. GEORGE — The energy in the Pine View High School auditorium was palpable Thursday morning as students, faculty and staff gathered for the annual Mr./Miss PVHS Pageant.

Fox Barrett (front center) performs a comedic lip sync routine during the Mr./Miss PVHS Pageant, St. George, Utah, Feb. 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The often hilarious and slightly irreverent competition was the culmination of weeks of fundraising efforts designed to help a local family facing a major medical challenge.

This year’s pageant was the 10th anniversary of raising funds for families in need, and it has become a tradition of support, encouragement and love, the event’s emcee, Coach Todd Shaw said during the assembly.

Over the past nine years, the school has raised over $111,000, not including Thursday’s total, for families facing various medical challenges.

This year’s recipient, 4-year-old Gavin Moon, was diagnosed at just nine months old with an extremely rare form of leukemia known as juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. The cancer affects about three in a million cases, and his particular subset of cancer has only been reported in 50 cases ever, Shaw said.

At present, the family travels back and forth between their home in St. George and San Fransisco where Moon can see specialists and the family can discuss treatment options with doctors, his mother, Jenny Moon, said. The 4-year-old is currently waiting to undergo a bone marrow transplant for when his body is deemed strong enough to handle the procedure.

In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s pageant, students representing various clubs and sports teams organized and participated in myriad fundraising efforts including carnivals, craft and bake sales, silent auctions, performances, races and even a luau.

Brad Moon (left) and Gavin Moon (right) are presented with a check at the Mr./Miss PVHS Pageant, St. George, Utah, Feb. 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Fundraising efforts accounted for 35% of the total competition score, and the eight students whose club or team raised the most money moved on to Thursday’s performance round where students competed in a talent competition, an activewear/school spirit competition, and a question and answer round.

Students who made it to the final round were Olivia Obray (Health Occupation Students of America), Jada Chepkwurui (Multicultural Club), Fox Barrett (National Honor Society), Jessica Hill (Cross Country), Teague Snow (Student Council), Ashley Madison (Drama), Sophia Foy (Future Farmers of America) and Peter Falaniko (Island Teens Against Tobacco).

The assembly featured a mixture of comedy and talent as each student took the stage to perform, model and answer questions.

The comedy was highlighted by a Mr./Miss PVHS tradition of allowing the teacher who raised the most money to kiss a live goat on stage. Language arts teacher Travis Roberts won the dubious honor and smooched the goat to wild cheers from the gathered students.

But the assembly was also punctuated by more touching moments, including a video montage of former recipients of the past nine years of fundraisers and a slide show of Moon and his family throughout their years of treatment.

Winner Teague Snow performs during the Mr./Miss PVHS Pageant, St. George, Utah, Feb. 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

While contestants waited for the winners to be announced, the audience was treated to a dance number featuring the Pine View High School Dance Company and special guests Gavin Moon and his sister Jasmine Moon, which was met with a standing ovation and chants of “Gavin! Gavin!”

In the end, the second runner-up went to Falaniko, first runner-up to Foy and Snow took the win for the student council.

Although each contestant had their moment in the spotlight, student council advisor, teacher and event organizer Kerry Moody said the pageant isn’t really about getting credit, it is about doing the right thing.

In addition to the various fundraisers throughout the school, Riverside Elementary students and staff got involved and donated $2,298 to Pine View High School’s efforts.

“Every year I’m shocked at how many students get involved and what our community does,” Moody said.

In total, students, faculty, staff and the greater community were able to raise $31,540.41, which was presented on stage to a surprised and grateful Moon family.

“I’m blown away,” Jenny Moon, said. “I just am in awe at their love and kindness. We were not expecting this.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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