Chardon student pays it forward with Make-A-Wish Foundation dream come true

CHARDON, Ohio - The Chardon High School Choir is singing a new tune thanks to huge upgrades to the choir room, courtesy of a selfless classmate and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Senior Katy Lessick says she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2016 that forced her to miss nearly two years of school. When she was granted a wish, instead of keeping it for herself, she decided to do something that would improve her school and help future students for years to come.

"I hope it makes our music program more attractive," said Lessick. "I hope it makes people go, 'Hey, that’s a cool place to be. Let me see if that’s right for me. Oh wow this really great.' Let’s keep it up; let’s make this program the best that it can be."

Talking with her choir director, she decided to "wish" for fresh paint, updated risers, new posture chairs, acoustic paneling and a piano that stays in tune. Monday, the updated room was revealed and celebrated along with family and classmates in an intimate performance by the choir.

"She is an amazing individual and it doesn’t surprise me she would do something like this but we are certainly deeply honored by the fact that she wanted to pay it forward," said choir director Fritz Streiff.

Streiff says he has been helping Lessick find her voice since she was in middle school and they have made lots of musical memories together. While music brings so much happiness to Lessick it also brings pain.

"It’s incredibly painful for her to sing," said Stephanie Lessick, Katy's mother. "She’s got nerve damage in her face since her brain surgery, so it’s been very painful for her but it brings her so much joy."

Yet, it did not stop her from joining the choir with her peers and singing with a smile. Lessick is currently in remission but says she realizes her road to recovery will be a process. She says giving back to her community was driven by her faith and determination to give the gift of music to others to enjoy.

"I have a lot of deep faith in Jesus Christ and he’s helped me a lot on my journey and getting sick and dealing with everything that comes with that; Jesus says to love your neighbors more than you love yourself," explained Lessick.

Lessick says she hopes to continue singing when she goes to college next year; she is currently waiting to see where she has been accepted.

She was given a baton, music books, six months of voice lessons and a keyboard to round out her extraordinary day.

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