Wyatt Strong Senior Project

The Wyatt Strong Senior Project team members are, front row, from left: Taylor Allen, Maddy Way with Noah, Wyatt and Blanton, also Tiler Voigt and Kaytlyn Wells; back row: Cinch Anderson, Averie Wenger, Shaine Madden, Rylee Browning and Taylor Hunt. Six other team members are not pictured.

A fundraiser with a lot of heart is benefiting a young Mt. Vernon boy who is undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments in Portland.

When professional photographer Tanni Wenger heard that 6-year-old Wyatt Simmons was fighting Wilms Tumor, a rare kidney cancer that is said to be highly treatable, she looked for a way to help.

She rallied a group of about 15 students to join in a community cause to assist the boy and his family. The 15 are a group of youths who chose Wenger to take their senior photos.

The team held a can collection and are still gathering funds through change buckets at John Day businesses and an account at Bank of Eastern Oregon — the bank account name is Wyatt Strong Senior Project. They are also selling T-shirts ($18) and hoodies ($35) with sizes for children and adults.

Wyatt enjoys the outdoors, including fishing, so the graphic on the T-shirt is a fish being caught with the words “Wyatt Strong” at the top.

All proceeds benefit a swing set project for Wyatt’s family, and any additional funds will be given directly to the family.

“Our team wanted to bring some happiness to their lives by building Wyatt and his two brothers a swing set,” Wenger said. Wyatt has two brothers, Noah, 9, and Blanton, 1, and their mother is Araya Anderson.

The family lived in Burns for several years and moved to Mt. Vernon this year.

The team is raising $900 for the swing set, which they plan to build in spring of 2020, when the ground has thawed.

The students involved in the project are from Grant Union, Prairie City, Monument and Burns high schools.

“It’s something new to bring kids together to give back to their community,” Wenger said of the program she’s started.

Payments for the shirts can be made payable to Wyatt Strong Senior Project and dropped off at Humbolt Elementary School in Canyon City or at Tanni Wenger Photography Studio at 60355 Highway 26 in John Day.

For more information, call Wenger at 541-620-3045.


Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at angel@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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