SPRING HILL — Springstead High School International Baccalaureate student Reema Patel decided she wanted to do something different for her required Creativity, Action and Service project.
She didn't want to volunteer for something that was already organized. She wanted to organize something herself.
"The only way that I can consider that I helped somebody," she said, "is if I've done something by myself, because I believe that comes from the heart."
The 18-year-old senior went to her theory of knowledge teacher, Kathleen Long, and asked her about lesser-known organizations that don't enjoy the benefits of higher-profile ones.
"She's the one who told me about Angelus," Patel said.
The Angelus is a home for severely disabled persons in Hudson.
With the support of Long, biology teacher Clifford Wagner and principal Susan Duval, Patel organized a walk-a-thon, held in October. She asked school organizations to set up booths at the event.
Some of the participants were groups in which Patel is or was a member, including the National Honor Society, for which she is vice president, and Springstead's Humanities and Etymology Club, for which she holds the same office.
Two months prior to the walk-a-thon, Patel went to area restaurants for donations. She was still raffling items until recently. Now, she is ready to present a check to Joseph Neri, the Angelus executive director and program administrator.
"I collected exactly $1,000," Patel said.
She considered the success of her project a result of the collective effort of her teachers and fellow students.
"They constantly encouraged me to keep going," she said.
And there were peripheral benefits of the effort.
"I learned so many skills that I believe are key skills for the future," she said. "Patience, time management. I learned to communicate with others."
She also realized the need for authority figures, especially for a high school student, to get things done.
"That's where Ms. Duval and Mr. Wagner and Mrs. Long helped," she said.
Patel who has a 4.5 weighted grade-point average, plans to attend the University of Florida in the premedicine program. She is interested in cardiology and neurology, but is leaving her options open as her interests develop.
Patel is the daughter of Priti and Pankaj Patel of Spring Hill.