KONY 2012 Video Inspires Students’ Legacy

By Patrick Carney

It started with a YouTube video and ended with a legacy.

When Trey Book and Cheyenne Warren, 8th graders at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Henderson, Kentucky, saw the KONY 2012 video, a YouTube sensation by the nonprofit group Invisible Children, they saw an opportunity to make a difference. They just didn’t know how to go about it.

School Principal Sandy Fleming directed the students to Father Larry McBride, pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

“Father Larry talked about KONY 2012,” Principal Fleming says, “and he asked, ‘Are you aware of Catholic Relief Services?’ ” Neither one of the students really knew much about the agency, so Father Larry described CRS as a well-established, Catholic, faith-based relief and development agency.

LRA victim

Jada Paustino was captured and tortured by the Lord’s Resistance Army. He finally escaped and made it back to his home in Palotaka, South Sudan, where he is a catechist. Photo by Karen Kasmauski/CRS

“He was very upfront telling us we don’t need to do KONY 2012 — we need to do CRS,” says the principal. For years, CRS has helped victims of Joseph Kony, who commands a violent rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army in East and Central Africa.

Trey and Cheyenne took their pastor’s advice and organized a car wash to raise money for CRS. Principal Fleming made it clear from the beginning that this would be a student-run project.

Surprise!

On a Saturday morning in April, students gathered to wash a few cars and raise a few dollars for CRS. Trey and Cheyenne had convinced more than half of their classmates to volunteer on the same day as a very popular local festival. To everyone’s surprise, for the next 7 hours, cars streamed in—two lines of four to five cars each—all waiting for a good scrubbing.

“We weren’t expecting how hectic and crazy it was going to be,” Trey says. “A lot of parents actually stepped up and helped.”Their efforts paid off: The class raised more than $1,000 to support CRS and help poor and oppressed people around the world.

“Through this car wash, I think it showed how much of a change we can make whenever we do come together,” Trey says.

Throughout the past school year, students at Holy Name focused on their school theme “legacy.” Trey and Cheyenne are certainly leaving theirs.

“I just want everyone to remember me as someone who actually stepped up and wanted to help and make a change as I grew in my faith,” he says.

Trey and Cheyenne plan to meet with the incoming student council president about continuing their legacy. They’re going to recommend that, every year, each 8th grade class engage in a fundraising project to support the Church’s international relief and development work through CRS.

The KONY 2012 video led Trey and Cheyenne to making a bigger difference in the world by putting their time and talents into a project that supported CRS. Going a step further, they decided to take the Catholic approach to KONY 2012.

“We felt that Catholic Relief Services impacted more than the KONY 2012 organization [Invisible Children],” says Principal Fleming. “You’re able to take our money and actually put it to where we thought it really needed to go.”

Patrick Carney is a CRS writer, editor and web producer. He is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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