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Student Spotlight - Rylee McDade

Student Spotlight - Rylee McDade

A Colonial Elementary School fifth-grader has raised over $1,700 to help students with special needs through a Go Fund Me site she set up in April.

Rylee McDade was inspired to do something to help students with physical disabilities after watching a video in Manuela Herbas’ social studies class about students in New York City, where students apply to public high schools of their choice. The video, produced by Parents for Inclusive Education, was part of a social studies unit called “Change,” said Ms. Herbas. The intent is to teach students about social injustices throughout American history, and about the people who fought for change.

In the video, students who used wheelchairs or had other disabilities discussed how their school choices were affected by the accessibility of public school buildings in New York. For example, one student in a wheelchair related how she went on a building tour but found that she could not get her wheelchair through a doorway to use the lavatory. 

“I felt terrible for them because they didn’t get to choose what they wanted to do,” said Rylee. “It’s not right to let this happen.” 

When she got home from school that day, she talked with her parents about wanting to start a charity. They discussed the challenges of taking such a step and after much research and discussion, agreed that a smaller, more manageable goal would be to set up a GoFundMe page. Rylee said her father helped her get that set up online and assisted in filming a video that went along with it. Her parents then helped spread the word about Rylee’s effort.

Rylee said she did a lot of research online to determine what her fundraising goal should be. Initially, she wanted to raise $10,000 to help pay for the installation of things like ramps, chair lifts, and even elevators. Her father helped her decide that $5,000 might be more attainable as a start.

To date, she has raised $1,785. When the money started coming in, she decided to take the next step of determining where her donations would go. With her teachers, she reached out to Conshohocken Elementary School’s principal, Denise Marks, to talk about donating the funds there for the possible installation of a chair lift. While discussions are still in the works, Rylee is hoping that more money will come in so that she can expand her efforts.

“I was super happy,” she said of the amount raised so far. “I thought we would barely get anything.”

Rylee expressed appreciation for the assistance of her parents, teachers and principal in helping her initiative to get off the ground. 

“They played a big part,” she said.

Ms. Herbas was more than willing to help Rylee pursue her idea. 

“Rylee is so incredible because she quickly understood the message of our lessons and made a change with her mission and charity,” said Ms. Herbas. “She is someone to watch for in the future, she has a huge heart and I have no doubt Rylee will continue to make a positive impact on our world.”

To donate to Rylee’s “Lift the World” campaign, please click here: