One February morning in 2012, 5-month-old Lily Strickland woke up with a fever. She was fussy and wasn’t easily consoled. In the blink of an eye, her fever spiked, she turned blue in the face, and her mother frantically dialed 911. The ambulance was there within minutes, and she was rushed to Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, and then to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. After arriving at Doernbecher, the team there worked hard to determine what was wrong.

Lily Strickland standing outside Hough Elementary School
Lily, fifth grade class president at Hough Elementary School, started the fundraiser & toy drive to give back to the hospital and the team that helped save her life. Photo credit: Brooke Strickland

The diagnosis: Lily had a bladder infection that was becoming septic. After several tests, the doctors determined that she had vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) – a condition in which urine flows backward from the bladder to one or both ureters and sometimes to the kidneys.

Lily spent almost a week in the hospital and had a PICC line inserted to administer antibiotics. She was on oral antibiotics for 18 more months to prevent any more bladder infections. Lily, like many babies born with this condition, grew out of the reflux condition and today, she’s a healthy, happy 11-year-old that is already doing big things in her community.

Hough Elementary Student Lily Strickland Pays it Forward

This year, Lily was elected fifth grade class president at Hough Elementary School in Vancouver. As she stepped into her new leadership role, she had a vision to not just be a good example to her classmates, but to give back to the hospital that helped save her life.

Running now through December 2, Lily has organized and is overseeing a schoolwide fundraiser and toy drive that will benefit children undergoing medical treatment at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Each classroom has donation jars labeled “Ca$h For Kid$,” where students, teachers and staff can donate spare change or dollar bills. Her goal is to raise $2,000 or more.  

The next portion of her fundraiser is a toy drive. A large donation box is in the lobby of the elementary school. Lily is hoping people can donate as many toys, activities and games as possible.

So far, Vancouver’s Kazoodles Toy Store has donated toys and Bookish in Camas has a giving tree set up in the store where customers can purchase an item that will go directly to Lily’s toy drive.

Lily and a woman at the back of a car with the hatch open holding donated toys
Kazoodles Toy Store (Vancouver) and Bookish (Camas) have already partnered to support Lily’s fundraiser & toy drive. Photo credit: Brooke Strickland

“Lily came to me and presented this idea of doing a fundraiser around children who are sick and their needs at the hospital,” says Jessica Graham, principal at Hough Elementary. “I loved it. It started with a student’s idea, and we ran with it. I look forward to watching Lily lead the school through the fundraiser as well as taking ownership/responsibility in the work she will be doing day-in and day-out. Through this project, Lily’s learning how to communicate through writing, morning video announcements, and math and problem-solving skills – all which translate to critical thinking skills. She is a sweet and intelligent young woman who is going to thrive in the world that we live in! She has the capacity to think in the bigger picture of our society.”

A Doernbecher representative recently visited Hough Elementary for an all-school assembly to help kick off Lily’s toy drive and fundraiser, and to talk to the kids about what their gifts would mean to the kids in the hospital.  

“It is important for me to do the fundraiser because I was there at the hospital and I want to do something good in the world,” Lily says. “It also helps teach the kids at school how to care more for others. I’m looking forward to seeing the happy faces of the kids at the hospital when they get the toys.” Toy donations can be made in the lobby of Hough Elementary School at:
1900 Daniels St. Vancouver, WA 98660
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monetary donations for the OHSU Foundation c/o Hough Elementary can be made online here.

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