This time of year is all about giving. Donika Bjorke has been a generous soul all of her life. At the age of 5, she decided to help fellow Shrine Hospital patients by taking her extra crayons, color books and toys to the hospital on her visits to share with the other children. Now at age 15, Donika continues her giving, but the toys just got a whole lot bigger!
Donika Bjorke is the youngest of four daughters to Doug and Cheri Bjorke. She was born with a condition called Marfan Syndrome. It is a connective tissue disorder that can effect many areas of the body. Specifically, Donika has abnormalties in her heart, eyes, skeletal system and feet. She has made several trips to Chicago Shriners Hospital, the University of Minnesota Hosital, South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Aberdeen, and Avera Medical Center in Sioux Falls. Donika knew early on while visiting the Shriner’s Hospital that she was fortunate with her few troubles compared to many of the children who are treated at the Shriner’s Hospital who do not have all of their extremities.
Although Donika’s heart condition hinders her from playing higher physically demanding sports. The surgeries on her feet and eyes have enabled her to live a full life of bowling on Huron’s Youth Travel Team, being a student manager for the freshman volleyball team, work part time at McDonalds, being an active youth member of Grace Episcopal Church, drive herself to school, work and activities, and make the honor roll.
Donika started a gift giving project by taking her extra color books and crayons to the Shriner’s Hospital so the other children would have something to do in the waiting and exam rooms. She would take extra suitcases full of toys and games, until the fee for luggage was enforced by the airlines. At the age of 5, Donika decided to start saving aluminum cans and to give the money to the Shriner’s Hospital and to the Shrine’s transportation fund to help with the travel expenses of the patients and their parents.
She also helps with the annual Kids Day Event that our local Shrine group hosts each summer, where fun summer activities and food are given away for free and medical staff from the Shriner’s Hospital are on location to help with screening children whose parents are interested in what Shriner’s Hospital can do to help their child.
The next duly elected Potentate of the Yelduz Shrine Club Nobel George Parmeter has known Donika all of her life. He has asked her to be a patient ambassador to the Shriner’s Hospitals and has nominated her for the Rainbow Award for a patient that has gone above and beyond helping Shriner’s. He knows of no one who has started a giving program at the age of 5 and continued with the project for 10 years. To coincide with the Rainbow Award, the next Potentate is designating his entire year of fundraising for what he has called Donika’s Shriner Hospital Project where at the end of 2015, all money raised will go to a charitable fund that will be given to Shriner’s Hospital on her behalf, with Donika presenting and designating what the funds shall be used for.
When Parmeter asked Donika’s father, Doug Bjorke to do this on Donika’s behalf, Doug started looking at ways to raise money. Doug approached all of the new car dealers in Huron, Schoenhards, Prostrollos, and Iversons. All were very supportive in the project and gave a lot of input into the fundraising efforts. When it came down to choosing a vehicle, all the prices and features were comperable. Wanting an unbiased opinion of which vehicle to raffle off, we left it as Donika’s choice. When asked why she picked this specific car, she commented that “L.L. Cool J drives one on one of her favortie television shows NCIS:Los Angeles.
The first fundraiser of the year is a raffle. The prizes: a 2015 Dodge Challenger RT from Iverson’s of Huron, a 55” TV from Walmart of Huron, a recliner from Slumberland Huron, and $100 cash. Raffle tickets are $100 each, and there will be just 500 tickets sold.
Thank you also goes to Walmart and Slumberland for donating a prize, and to Brian Davidson State Farm Insurance for donating the insurance on the car until it is given away.
If you are interested in purchasing a raffle ticket, please contact Doug Bjorke at 461-8881 or Fr. George Parmeter at 350-0654 for ticket availalblity. Tickets are also available at the Yelduz Shrine Center at Aberdeen, Iverson Chrysler and Signature Plus in Huron. Tickets can also be purchased at this weekends Dakota Country Outdoor Show. When all of the 500 tickets are sold, the drawing will be held. Need not be present to win.
Donika’s Shriner Hospital Project has already received inkind donations from some of the area clubs. If anyone is interesting in donating to this project, it does qualify for a 501C3 tax deduction. Donations may be sent to Yelduz Shrine, Donika’s Shrine Hospital Project, PO Box 1066, Aberdeen SD 57402.