At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, while health care heroes were hard at work caring for patients, a 10-year old boy in Bethlehem was also hard at work thinking of ways in which he could help their efforts. Skyler Miller finally came up with a plan to sell his toys to help raise funds to donate to the hospital. Skyler didn’t put a price on any of his toys, simply listing them as free with a request for a donation in the amount of the recipient’s choice. After only two months, he raised a total of $500, and when asked where he’d like the funds to be used, St. Luke’s University Hospital-Bethlehem was his immediate choice. The generosity of community members allowed him to raise more than he could ever have imagined he would.
A decade after Skyler was born at St. Luke’s University Hospital-Bethlehem, he has finished his final year at Asa Packer Elementary, a school known for employing the Leader in Me Program in their curriculum. Leader in Me is an evidence-based school-improvement model that empowers students with leadership and life skills they need to thrive. It’s evident Skyler portrays the principles of Leader in Me through his kindness and generosity at such a young age, and during an increasingly challenging environment as a result of COVID-19.
Leader in Me was first introduced at Lincoln and Governor Wolf Elementary schools in the Bethlehem Area School District in 2011. Under the leadership of Al Douglass, Glen Bressner and Bob Gadomski, the program grew to reach 38 schools throughout five districts.
“There is an enhanced sense of civic engagement when you empower students to be leaders in their life. This is why Jill and I and others felt compelled to bring Leader in Me to the Lehigh Valley,” said Alfred “Al” E. Douglass III, Senior Consultant, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “This program has developed and prepared thousands of citizens for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow.”
In 2018, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley entered an agreement with FranklinCovey Education, a division of Franklin Covey Co., to become the formal sponsor of Leader in Me in schools serving Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties. When Douglass heard about Skyler’s incredible act of kindness, he knew he and United Way had to support his efforts. Al and Jill Douglass have ensured Skyler’s initial $500 will be matched to provide $1,000 to the hospital.
“We are so proud to invest in the next generation of leaders through Leader in Me,” said Paul Hurd, Chief Development Officer, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. “We applaud Skyler’s generosity and are inspired by the ways he brings Leader in Me to life. We are especially grateful to the leaders such as Al, who partner with United Way to bring Leader in Me to students across the Greater Lehigh Valley.”
Just prior to COVID-19, St. Luke’s University Hospital-Bethlehem unveiled their new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Equipped with the latest technologies and staffed with pediatric critical care intensivists 24/7, the eight-bed unit allows local children to receive advanced, personalized care close to home. Funds from Skyler’s efforts will directly support St. Luke’s PICU patients, making their stay more comfortable.
“It’s so nice to see the work that Skyler has done benefitting children in the community,” said Jessika Haynos, Service Line Administrator, Pediatric Services, St. Luke’s University Health Network. “Over the past few months our network has been focused on getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. As life returns to a more normal state, it’s important not to forget that kids will continue to get sick from other illnesses. Our PICU is here for them and their families during this difficult time. As our pediatric services continue to expand we are grateful to individuals like Skyler, his family and community partners who recognize their importance and contribute to our growth.”
By working together, organizations like St. Luke’s University Health Network, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, FranklinCovey Education and Merrill Lynch are helping to foster the next generation of leaders and service to the community.
For more information on Leader in Me, visit LeaderInMe.org.
To help support the new PICU at St. Luke’s University Health Network, visit SLUHN.org.
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.