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.”

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