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Louisville students hold out hope for state competition after Marshall Fire destroyed their community

Fundraiser launched to help DECA club
Louisville students hold out hope for state competition after Marshall fire destroyed their community
Posted at 8:38 AM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 09:02:25-05

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — After almost two years of the pandemic, students at Monarch High School students in Louisville were just getting back to some sense of normalcy when the Marshall Fire struck.

Senior Cassie Ferrera is among students whose homes were destroyed. Her family is now staying in Erie after losing their home in the Harper Lake neighborhood.

“We’re trying to look for something closer, but a lot of other people are too,” Ferrera said.

School has kept her going and focusing on positive things. But she and other members of the school’s DECA club may have to miss out on the state competition in late February. The cost to attend — $600 per student — seems out of reach now for families who’ve lost everything.

“There’s no way that I can ask anybody in our community to give any resources they have to anything other than helping themselves or neighbors or our community,” said Monarch teacher Jody Bennett, advisor for the DECA club.

Bennett said the kids all wanted to use any money they had to help the community. But a retired teacher and friend felt the team should still get to go to the competition they’ve spent the whole school year preparing for. She set up a GoFundMe, hoping to raise $42,000 for 70 students to attend the event in Colorado Springs.

DECA member Jimmy Fisher said the state competition is something they’ve worked for all year.

“We’ve gone through a few different competitions already. We’ve also done research projects, business plans that we turn into a 20-page paper,” Fisher said.

“This is like the last thing for us to do, kind of like our finale as seniors,” said senior Katelyn Hewitt.

The students all said the donations coming in so far, including from other DECA chapters, has touched everyone in the club.

“We’re a really small town and so we’re not ever on the news, and hearing all these people say, 'We’re supporting you to get to go to state' was really cool,” Ferrera said.

They know that there are hundreds of families who have lost everything. But Bennett said the state competition is an opportunity that will mean so much to students who have already been through two years of pandemic disruptions.

“These kids haven’t been in school normally for two years, and to have 70 of them put in enough work and effort to qualify for something like this is amazing,” she said.

The team must submit the money for the state competition by Friday, Jan. 21. The competition will be held in late February at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. You can donate here.