Village of Pewaukee -- A Pewaukee girl has given her time to helping others, and did so in an extraordinary way for two Horizon Elementary School students and their families.
Mei Lin Molsbee, currently a sixth-grader and also a Horizon Elementary School student, has helped the families of two fellow students in the last few months through her involvement with This Time Tomorrow, a group that provides direct financial support to individuals and families fighting all forms of cancers.
Last spring, her actions resulted in a $3,000 donation to a classmate's family. This fall, she was instrumental in a $3,000 donation to a second classmate's family.
"She's an amazing little girl," said Sarah Lenhardt, the mom of one of the children helped by Mei Lin's actions. "Her parents should be very proud of her. There should be more people like her in the community, more people like that in life, to be quite honest."
Mei Lin was in fifth-grade teacher Lisa O'Hern's class in March when she learned of a fellow student, Ella Hansen, whose 4-year-old brother Eli was diagnosed with cancer. Mei Lin wrote a letter to This Time Tomorrow (a group that provides direct financial support to individuals and families fighting all forms of cancers), and was able to get $3,000 donated to Hansen's family.
The organization donated the money in a special ceremony on the last day of the 2015-16 school year. O'Hern had called Ella's mother, Jamie, to the school, for what Jamie thought was an award ceremony for Ella.
Instead, waiting for her was This Time Tomorrow's founder, Cory Zimmerman, and it wasn't an award for Ella. Rather, it was a random act of kindness for Hansen's family, the donation of a check to help the family as they coped with cancer.
"That was an incredible surprise," Jamie Hansen said. "I wasn't expecting it at all, and we were completely blown away and shocked by the generosity of the foundation, but most importantly, this empathy and kindness of a fifth-grade girl. She was in fifth grade at the time, and just her compassion to reach out and bless her family with something so incredible."
"Everyone was crying, all the kids, everyone in the whole audience, and mom (Jamie Hansen) was crying, (it) was so emotional," O'Hern said.
Mei Lin's second act of kindness came in early November. In March, Emily Kucan, a classmate of Mei Lin's, had told her fifth-grade class that her 3-year-old brother, Ryan, had cancer. Mei Lin decided to write another letter to This Time Tomorrow to help.
"She came into our class and told the whole class that he would be OK after three years, so I wanted to speed up the time for that (his recovery)," Mei Lin said of why she wanted to help.
Emily was amazed at the support she received from her class, especially because she had been nervous to share the news with classmates.
"That meant a lot to me because I knew that I had friends in there that really care about me and my brother," Emily said.
Ryan and Emily's mother, Sarah, was also given a $3,000 check, a gift bag from This Time Tomorrow, that included cleaning supplies for Lenhardt to clean her house (Ryan's cancer leaves his immune system compromised, and he needs a sanitary environment). Lenhardt also received food products from the online organic food provider Wildtree.
Like Hansen, Lenhardt was invited to a surprise award ceremonyat Horizon Elementary School, this time in Shannon Gillen's sixth-grade class. Because Ryan was sick that day, she had a friend go instead.
And like Hansen, Lenhardt was also amazed at Mei Lin's generosity.
Teacher Lisa O'Hern has also seen the impact of Mei Lin's actions, noting that Mei Lin and her mother had donated time to This Time Tomorrow.
"She is one that never thinks about herself. She always thinks about others," O'Hern said. "To have a fifth-grader be like that, that's special."
O'Hern added, "She does not look for any recognition. She just did this all on her own. She's very caring, and she's a very good writer, too."
Mei Lin's efforts have inspired the student council, which she is a part of, to take action, according to the school's sixth-grade student council teaching adviser, Wynelle Baum. Along with Brittany Schaus, Baum said they're going to start a weeklong coin drive for leukemia through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, working with the Brookfield chapter.
"It started with (Mei Lin), then it went to student council, and now it's going to be schoolwide," Baum said.
To donate to the GoFundMe for Ryan Kucan, visit bit.ly/HelpRyanKucan. To learn more about his journey, visit his CaringBridge account at caringbridge.org. To donate to the GoFundMe for Eli Hansen, visit bit.ly/HelpEli.