Boy to share ‘Our Friend’ with new set of friends
Monday, September 10, 2007
By JD MALONE
NAZARETH ; A 6-year-old boy used the last days of his summer vacation over the Labor Day weekend to raise money and buy copies of the book "Our Friend Mikayla."
Dante Requena, a first-grader at Shafer Elementary, hosted a yard sale and lemonade stand for two days and collected enough cash to buy 36 copies of the book written by Mikayla Resh’s third-grade classmates at Lower Nazareth Elementary.
The book chronicles the friendship between the authors and Mikayla and shows her classmates have much in common with her even though she is disabled. The students drew the book’s pictures and wrote the story.
The book was published in 2006 by "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken’s Bubel/Aiken Foundation.
Dante’s mother, Debbie Requena, shot down his request to catch tadpoles at Jacobsburg Environmental Center and sell them to raise money.
She told Dante if he wanted to raise money, he needed to come up with another idea. He thought of the yard sale and then picked buying the books because his mother is one of Mikayla’s home health nurses.
Dante believes children everywhere will enjoy the book. His favorite part is the page depicting Aiken on "American Idol."
That page was drawn and written by Logan Houptley, who also happened to stop by Dante’s yard sale. Houptley bought a cookie, handed Dante $50 and told him to keep the change.
Kristy Barnes, president of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, said the foundation has sold more than 2,500 copies of the book so far and ordered another 5,000. The foundation also uses the book as part of a K-12 curriculum for inclusion it created.
"It is great to see children embracing that message and understanding the importance of communicating it to others by creating the book and donating copies of the book," Barnes said.
Debbie Requena said they are still working on where to send all 36 books. The foundation’s goal is to have one in every elementary school and library across America.
Dante has an idea of where a few copies will go.
"Canada, Bermuda and Antarctica," Dante said.
Reporter JD Malone can be reached at 610-759-4599 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.