By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
PLANO — Unbeknownst to most in north Texas, storied villains such as the Joker, Thanos and other evil-doers combined forces March 8 to take hostage some of the world’s greatest superheroes on the campus of St. Mark Catholic School.
That is, until 4-year-old Beckett Butcher arrived to save the day.
Butcher, who was born with a congenital heart defect and has undergone multiple surgeries, was transformed into a superhero — complete with a Spider-man costume and custom-made Spidey tricycle — courtesy of St. Mark Catholic School students and their latest Make-A-Wish Foundation effort.
“Just seeing his eyes through all of this, seeing him with the outfit on, seeing all the kids come together to do this – I could not imagine anything better,” said his mother Sarah Butcher, of Frisco, who along with her daughters followed the young superhero around the campus. “This was over the top and every aspect was well thought out and amazing. I cannot thank this school enough.”
During his adventure, Butcher moved from room to room, down hallways lined with cheering St. Mark students, vanquishing villains and saving the likes of Thor, Captain America, Batman and more while collecting puzzle pieces that hinted at the day’s big prize: a family trip to Disney World.
“This will be our first trip as an entire family since he’s been born,” his mother said. “As you can see by how emotional his sisters are, this is granting wishes for our whole family.”
Butcher may have proven to be hero that day, but it was the efforts of the St. Mark students that were truly super.
“The experience of raising money, planning, designing, and creating both the wish and reveal embodies what we want our students to practice by sharing their time, talent, and treasure with others,” said Pam Steinkirchner, principal. “I am proud to say we have seen our students’ service opportunities create life-long habits in our alumni’s hearts and minds throughout the past 40 years.
“I am also proud of our middle schoolers because they embraced this project with joy, excitement, and great empathy,” Steinkirchner added. “When Beckett came into the school the only thing on their minds was for him to have a great experience.”
The St. Mark principal said there is a legacy of such service at the Plano school.
“For as long as I can remember, St. Mark has worked hard to instill in our students Roman Catholic principles and to live with a servant’s heart no matter their age, occupation, or where they aspire to be,” Steinkirchner said. “Our students putting their Catholic faith in action speaks louder than their words. From three years old to eighth grade, our entire school body participates in monthly all-school service projects focusing on a different Catholic social teaching helping a variety of organizations. We try to plan as many ‘hands-on’ experiences for the students as we can for them to see how their actions affect others firsthand.”
When the current group of eighth graders graduate in May, Steinkirchner said she knows they will continue giving to others following the St. Mark way of thinking “what I have done for someone else today.”
Matthew Moxley, a St. Mark eighth grader wearing a blonde wig and a Thor costume, said he is happy that he and his classmates were able to help grant Butcher’s wish.
“It feels good because you know that you are helping someone and that you are making their day one of the best days of their lives,” he said. “The Church teaches us to spread joy to others and to help others – and that’s what we did today.”
This year marked St. Mark’s fourth Make-A-Wish project, according to Stacy Oliver, a seventh and eighth grade religion teacher who helps coordinate the events.
“We do it every other year and each time we do it, we raise $10,000,” said Oliver, explaining that the seventh and eighth graders raise funds in a variety of ways including bake sales, school dances, popcorn sales and even received help from fourth graders this year who hosted a lemonade stand. “This year we raised just over $11,000.”
Oliver said the school’s involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation started several years ago by happenstance.
“It was a service project we did, and it was absolutely amazing,” Oliver said. “As soon as we finished the first one, the students asked, ‘We’re doing this again, right?’ So, we decided every other year, seventh and eighth graders would participate.”
The middle-schoolers have been planning the event for weeks, with six different sections of students – three representing the seventh grade and three the eighth grade – assigned to each of the different rooms.
“They’ve been super excited about this,” Olivers said. “Planning each room and coming up with all the details, today they actually got to act and see the joy on the family’s faces.”
With Butcher’s wish granted, eighth grader McKinley Bain echoed a sentiment shared by many of her classmates.
“It’s just really been nice because we got to do something good for a person who is really struggling in their life,” she said. “I just hope they leave here knowing that they are special.”