Handley Middle School donation

Gatewood Alumni Family Inspires Annual Give Back Program for Handley Middle School

Sometimes it takes a school, rather than a village, to care for a family. Meet Nate Pike, 18, and his mom, Amanda Horn, who last stayed with us at the Ronald McDonald House near Egleston while Nate underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2020.

Amanda Horn and Nate Pike

Amanda Horn and Nate Pike are preparing for graduation on May 26.

Now, Nate is graduating as the valedictorian of his senior class at Handley High School on May 26.

Nate’s former school, Handley Middle School in Roanoke, Alabama, has supported Birmingham RMHC for years through its annual Goody Bag Fundraiser and Pop Tabs collection. This year, because Nate was treated in Atlanta, students chose to support Atlanta RMHC families by providing more than 100 activity/goody bags, Pop Tabs and a donation of $1,200, which supports 10 families for 1 night at our two Houses.

“This year was our eighth annual Goody Bag Fundraiser,” says Lindsey Green, Handley Middle School media specialist. “Our first year, we were able to donate 46 bags. Our second year, we took 56 and for the past few years we have provided over 100 bags. We always aid to make each year our best yet. Our students want to put even more smiles on the kids’ faces and show them that Roanoke, Alabama, is truly behind their medical journey.”

Lindsey and her Student Council co-sponsor Amanda Lambert, and students, Alli Amason, SGA president; Aysriana Lemon, SGA vice president; Chloe Arnett, SGA secretary; and Owen Gabriel, made the road trip to Atlanta recently to deliver 86-gallon bags of Pop Tabs, the goody bags and a check,” Green says. “Our kids were super excited. We normally support Birmingham RMHC but since our very own Nate spent so much time at the Atlanta House, it was only fitting to give back to the place that showed his family so much kindness.”

Nate needed the bone marrow transplant to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and severe Aplastic Anemia, which was diagnosed in fall 2020, Amanda says.

Nate’s medical crisis came about suddenly. “Labor Day weekend of 2020, Nate was playing football one Friday night,” Amanda recalls. “He played through the third quarter and actually had a stroke on the football field.  He could not feel his left arm, but the trainer thought it was a stinger. He continued to go out on the field. When he started slurring his speech, they put him in the ambulance. After arriving at the ER in LaGrange, they put us in a helicopter and went straight to Children’s Hospital.”

Nate Pike and footballThe hospital arranged for the family to stay at the Ronald McDonald House near Egleston. “The time we were there was very stressful because of COVID restrictions,” Amanda says. “However, what I do remember is how kind every single person was who worked at RMHC. Kattie and the gentlemen who fix everything. They were awesome. The facility had everything we could have possibly needed.”

As for the Atlanta donation, Amanda and Nate had no idea about the size of the donation. “I saw it on Facebook. I knew they were doing a Pop Tab drive in Nate’s honor and something about goody bags but when I saw the school’s post, I cried crocodile tears.

“I tell people back home that RMH took care of Nate and me when our family couldn’t,” Amanda says.

As for the school’s inspiration for supporting RMHC and our families?

“We have had students, parents and faculty who have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, and we wanted to give back,” Lindsey says. “We fill our goody bags with things the kids like to entertain themselves — coloring books and crayons or colored pencils, small toys, fidgets.”