CHARACTER COUNTS NOMINATIONS

Hamilton tennis player uses unique art form to help former teacher’s son

Sep 24, 2018, 10:56 AM

(Facebook Photo)...

(Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

Hamilton High School tennis player Esha Rajadhyaksha is in the business of helping people.

Using a unique art form called paper quilling, which uses rolled pieces of paper to create things such as earrings, Rajadhyaksha is helping change lives for the better.

“I learned it in seventh grade summer when I went to India,” Rajadhyaksha said. “But I didn’t start doing it until last year when I received a gift from my family friend when she gave me a small paper quilling set.”

From there, Rajadhyaksha went to work, selling and making earrings. But she wanted to do more than just make art for herself.

That’s when she found Andrew Burkhart on Facebook.

“I just wanted to help him, he’s an amazing kid and I started making these and advertising on Facebook, Instagram, spreading the word and so many people wanted to help this cause,” Rajadhyaksha said.

Andrew was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was 4 years old. Since then, his family has been paying out of pocket for expensive medical treatments.

“Here was an opportunity to help by buying these earrings and I was just really glad that it was taking off, because it was something I had learned a long time ago and now I was helping a cause I cared about,” Rajadhyaksha said.

There was a connection with her and Andrew right off the bat, as he is the son of her former teacher.

“He was a great teacher, he helped me fall in love with math again,” Rajadhyaksha said. “He was just a very supportive teacher.”

Rajadhyaksha made it a point to help in anyway possible.

“He has a lot of unconventional treatments, like stem cell treatments that aren’t covered by insurance and on a teacher’s salary,” she said. “Mr. Burkhart works three teaching jobs and his wife works full time.”

Not only did she take it upon herself to reach out and offer help, she also set up Quilling for Hope, a club at Hamilton that raises money for Andrew.

So far, she has sold around $600 worth of earrings. All of that money goes directly to the Burkharts.

“I didn’t know much about Cerebral Palsy or other diseases until I started working and learning about what Andrew was going through,” the Hamilton Huskies tennis player said. “Although I’m just raising money for his treatments, I’ve also taken it upon myself to learn more about what Cerebral Palsy is and how all these treatments are helping him.”

This isn’t the first time Rajadhyaksha has reached out to help others.

“Sometimes I would go out and play piano and fundraise for another organization called Child Crisis Arizona, which helps provide money for kids who don’t have homes or have been placed in bad homes,” she said.

In addition to Quilling for Hope and Child Crisis Arizona, Rajadhyaksha has also volunteered at Dignity Health and as a teacher’s aide, as well as in other groups from her school such as UNICEF and the National Honor Society.

Rajadhyaksha’s passion for helping others is clearly evident with the career that she wants to pursue.

“I want to go into the field of medicine,” Rajadhyaksha said. “I really want to work with kids, I love science and I’ve enjoyed working with kids and interacting with them, and so I want to get into a profession where I get to work with kids. Pediatrics really interests me.”

In more ways than one, Andrew has helped Rajadhyaksha in finding her true calling.

“I love to help people, I get this sense of happiness to help others. To help others, to bring a smile to their face, I feel so happy,” Rajadhyaksha said. “Like with Andrew, to see him happy and smiling just brings a smile to my face because I know I’m helping him. This kid is an amazing kid and I’m helping him.

“It’s an amazing feeling that you’re helping someone and helping them get better, whether its through school, art forms or volunteer work.”

Character Counts Nominations

Aani Nagaiah, front row far right, is the winner among 10 finalists for the 2024 Character Counts s...

Character Counts

Arcadia senior wins 2024 Character Counts Scholarship

Arcadia's Aani Nagaiah on Wednesday night was presented as the winner of the 2024 Character Counts scholarship courtesy of Parker & Sons.

3 months ago

...

Vincent DeAngelis

Arcadia’s Aani Nagaiah inspires people through music, sports and research

Aani Nagaiah is a senior at Arcadia High School who volunteers, plays three different sports and is even a nonprofit owner.

4 months ago

Naomi Malone...

Character Counts

UMKC track commit Naomi Malone has a plan to help others

University of Missouri-Kansas City sprinter commit Naomi Malone has a clear picture of her future, even if the present might be a tad busy.

5 months ago

Gilbert Classical Academy (GCA Spartans/Facebook)...

Character Counts

Gilbert Classical Academy senior thrives on keys, track and volunteer work

Regan Birk has had an impact in his community through many different facets before he looks ahead to the transition to college next summer.

5 months ago

Casa Grande Union High School...

Character Counts

Casa Grande sophomore making most of his time on and off basketball court

Casa Grande Union High School sophomore Phinneas Linehan aspires to make it on the basketball court with law school on his radar.

6 months ago

Heritage Academy Maricopa (HAMaricopa/Athletics)...

Damon Allred

Heritage Academy’s Abby Dirks works hard to be a good example for all

Abby Dirks knows what it means to be a leader on and off the court. She understands the big picture and her place in it.

6 months ago

Hamilton tennis player uses unique art form to help former teacher’s son