JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Taking a stand for something you believe in takes guts, and these students have what it takes! Kelly Kaiser’s 7th grade class at Jackson Hole Middle School were asked to tackle a problem in the world today and speak out for their “Combat the Silence project.

One component of the project asked students to put themselves out there and to take a risk in order to go out into the community and raise awareness for their problem of choice. This was called their “Guts Factor” and these are some of the highlights:


Kai Gessler

Kai Gessler truly took a risk and spent endless hours preparing for a fundraiser that could truly make a difference. She fearlessly took up the fight to put an end to the harsh discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth endure. She sold stickers and pins advocating for LGBT+ rights and handed out brochures and baked rainbow cookies to raise awareness about the troubles LGBT+ people face everyday.

Kai sat outside of the Whole Grocer for four hours while educating people about the LGBT+ community and causes of suicide and how it affects us all.  She has collected $728.50 dollars in her effort to support The Trevor Project, but there is still more coming in as she raises awareness.

Finley Brownfield and Ariel Perez spent hours and hours baking and stood outside the Whole Grocer from 10:00 to 1:30 to raise money for Greenpeace, Oceana, and Road to Zero Waste. They stopped people before they walked into the store to explain what plastic pollution is doing to our oceans and our land.

By the end of the day, they had raised $184 dollars to stop pollution in our world.

In addition, Finley chose to go the extra mile and spend a day filling five large trash bags with trash along the rode. Then she spent some time sharing and teaching a 6th grade class how they could make a difference and get involved in preventing plastic pollution.

Kayli Genzer sat outside in Melody Ranch for four hours selling snow cones to “Brain Freeze” brain tumors. She stepped out of her comfort zone and educated the members of her community on the serious effects brain tumors have on the patients and their families.

Kayli raised $68.34 to donate to the American Brain Tumor Association who help fund studies to better the future of brain tumors. She also shared her grandmas experience having two brain tumors and how it changed and molded her.

It took guts to share such a personal story, but it was well worth it.

Joseph DiMarco, CR Massie, and Nick Korpi.

It took guts and determination for these young men to stand and occasionally sit on a cooler for 2 hours in the rainy 26 degree weather, selling lemonade to raise money to donate to the Never Again Movement.

The Never Again Movement is working to eliminate mass shootings.

Nick, CR, and Joseph raised and donated $95 to their cause and learned compassion for victims and those impacted by senseless shootings.

Calais Christensen pushed a candy filled cart through the crazy halls of Jackson Hole Middle School. She sold treats that had been donated by the local candy store, Yippy I-O Candy Co. for her Guts Factor.

She used her communication skills to sell all of the candy to her school mates. She raised $140, she is donating all the money to Girls Not Brides, who are working to stop the global issue of forced marriages.

The money she donates will specifically help teenage mothers in Africa.

Physical Feats

Grainger Harris, Sam Sinclar, Zack Smith, and William Yetter their group started at the Jackson Hole Visitor Center and biked 22 miles, to the Albright Outlook and back. The 22 miles represented the amount of veterans succumbed to suicide every day.

It was a very stressful journey which took them 2 hours and 30 minutes, with only 5 breaks in that 22 miles. The journey was very interesting,  they biked through rain, snow and wind that changed direction to be In their faces the whole time. They were sore and tired the next day but proud to do their part in treating veterans everywhere.

They talked to people outside of the visitor center and got a few sponsors and made a total of $66 dollars to donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. They learned that this was only a portion of the struggle that veterans go through on a daily basis.

They said, “If you want to help, donate to the Wounded Warrior project and they will use this money to help veterans in need.”