​Leadership Group Partners with Make-A-Wish® Foundation

November 26, 2018

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The Texas Lutheran University National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) chapter has partnered with Kerrville-Tivy High School student Zackary Reyna, 18, as he collects letters to Santa for Macy’s Believe Campaign. In 2007, Reyna was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm and given only one year to live. In 2010, through the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, he was granted his wish of riding every ride at Disney World. Since then, he has been paying it forward and raising money for kids with critical illnesses.

Led by NSLS President Katie Gatto ’19, the group has collected 600 letters in the last two weeks to help Reyna meet his goal of gathering more than 54,000 letters. For every letter received Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation and NSLS President-elect Porfirio Dubon’s family foundation has agreed to match that amount.

Gatto, a communication studies major, first heard about Reyna’s efforts through a friend’s mother who teaches in Kerrville. She immediately knew it was the type of outreach she wanted the TLU NSLS chapter to support.

“It’s such a cool project and an easy way for us make an impact locally and nationally,” she said. “This is a great opportunity because not only are we helping Make-A-Wish, we’re helping Zackary. Our initial goal was to collect 500 letters and we easily surpassed that.”

She also likes the simplicity of this project.

“It’s something anyone can participate in and students don’t have to donate money or do anything extravagant,” she said. “Anyone can write a letter and leave a big impact. I think it’s important to remember that in order for someone to make a difference, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something extravagant.”

NSLS member Miranda Johnson ’19 spent many summers at camp in Kerrville and felt very connected to what Reyna has been doing.

“Even though I’m from Corpus Christi, the Kerrville area is like a second home for me and I really wanted to be able to help Zackary even it was from a distance,” Johnson, a communication studies major, said. “For me, I feel that paying it forward is a sense of community and you get to connect with people from all over. It has been so great here at TLU to be in the Alumni Student Center and have all the students coming up to our table to write a letter to Santa. We’ve had everyone from Freshmen Experience classes and athletes to faculty and staff participate. It really brings us together and reminds us we’re all part of something much bigger.”

Student Porfirio Dubon ’20 will take over as president of TLU’s NSLS chapter next fall. The social entrepreneurship and music double major plans to carry on the group’s community outreach efforts.The Dubon Family Foundation is also matching a dollar for every letter received.

“This project resonated with me and I truly believe that if most of us get to the point in our lives where we can participate in an act of kindness we should,” Dubon said. “I’ve just always felt this way and my family always gave even when we didn’t have much. Giving can be contagious and our campus can make a big difference. This just reminds people of how much good can come from the little things we do.”

If you’re interested in dropping off a letter to help Zackary and the TLU NSLS, stop by the Dean’s Office in the Alumni Student Center before 5 p.m on Thursday, Nov. 29. You can also download and print a letter template to drop off or email it to padubon@tlu.edu.

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