GENEVA – When Eliza Peters started raising money for her Hear the Cheers campaign last winter, her initial goal was to raise $1,000 to buy hearing aids for students with hearing impairments in Kane County.
After two weeks of fundraising, Eliza, a sixth-grader at Geneva Middle School North, far exceeded her goal and collected more than $18,000.
“It’s a really good feeling to know that I did that much to help other people,” she said.
Eliza submitted an essay about the fundraiser to the Illinois Service Resource Center’s contest, “How I Advocate for Others.” The ISRC selected one student who demonstrated the ability to advocate for others.
“I put down that I wanted to help others, and I wanted to give people the chance to hear, and that you can do anything no matter what setbacks you have,” she said about what she wrote in her essay.
Eliza won the award about three weeks ago, and was honored recently at a Geneva School District 304 board meeting with a Tradition of Excellence Award, which is the highest award available in the district.
Superintendent Kent Mutchler said not many students as young as Eliza, 12, receive the Tradition of Excellence Award, which is awarded to students for outstanding accomplishments such as winning a state tournament or volunteerism.
“We’re very proud of her,” he said. “She sets a great example to not just kids, but for adults in the community on how to make a positive impact.”
Eliza is considered legally deaf, and her family found out that she was hearing impaired when she was 5. She wears bilateral hearing aids, and even the least expensive hearing aids start at $2,500 per ear. Insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids.
Eliza said she campaigned for funds mainly through social media, emails and the Internet. Eliza raised money with the help of Sarah Spain, who works for espnW and ESPN Radio, and the two participated in a campaign called “Choose to Matter,” which is where the Hear the Cheers campaign started.
Eliza said they’re in the process of distributing the funds to students in need, including one student who attends her school.
With her ISRC award, Eliza was able to select $125 worth of hearing aid products from Harris Communications.