September 9, 2012

Granting three wishes just the start for Madison teenager

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

MADISON -- Fifteen-year-old Lanie Howes is not one for setting modest goals.

click image to enlarge

Lanie Howes, 15, has raised $12,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has already granted two wishes for disabled or ill children and is working to fulfill a third wish. She is a sophomore at Madison Area Memorial High School.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

As a freshman last year at Madison Area Memorial High School, Lanie wanted to raise $6,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Chris Poulin, the school's Jobs For Maine Graduates instructor, advised her to scale it back a little to something more practical, say $2,000.

"We work on goal setting and I thought the $6,000 was a little too big of a goal for a freshman to raise on her own, so we chatted about making it more realistic," Poulin said. "She told me that she could do it -- she put her mind to it, she gave up her birthday money, her Christmas money and had a huge auction and invited an official from the Make-A-Wish Foundation."

A year later, as she begins her sophomore year at Madison, Lanie has raised more than $12,000 that has already granted one wish to a girl in Dover-Foxcroft. She has enough put away for a second wish and $700 toward a third one.

"I've always been brought up on the idea that it's nice to donate and mom always said if you feel bad about something you should get your hands dirty and do something about it," she said. "It's $6,000 to grant a wish."

She is the daughter of Michael and Beth (Cayford) Howes.

Lanie, an aspiring dancer, said she started helping Make-A-Wish when she was younger by collecting toys for children and made cards, which she sold to benefit the foundation. As she got older, she said she wanted to do something bigger.

"The Make-A-Wish Foundation takes the money and gives it to the child, I just raise the money," she said. "The girl in Dover-Foxcroft's wish was to go on a shopping spree -- she likes arts and crafts, computers and knitting."

Lanie said she raises the money in several ways: She bakes bread and cookies and sells them, she sells Avon products, holds raffles, has an ongoing community bottle drive at her house in Athens and organized an auction at her aunt's lakeside home, for which the state foundation's development director Jim Christie and his family showed up.

Poulin said Lanie also volunteers at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland, is helping with fundraisers for area homeless shelters and has scheduled a masquerade ball at Lakewood Theater to benefit the foundation.

"She's so humble -- she thinks all the kids are doing this stuff," he said. "This is my 15th year working with Jobs For Maine Graduates and I've never had 50 students raise $12,000, much less one student."

Madison High School Principal Stephen Ouellette said when Lanie first came to the school as a freshman she met with him to discuss raising money for Make-A-Wish.

"She not only talked about it, it was a very important goal in her life to do what she set out to do," Ouellette said. "Her goal is to raise money to help other people. It's tremendous that she is able to do all this and it says an awful lot about the type of person she is and her great character."

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