By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – It was not uncommon to hear Sky Aurora Swenson say “Hey… Check out my socks” on her augmented communication system. According to her father, Paul Swenson, it was one of her favorite sayings.
“She definitely loved her crazy socks,” Swenson said in an email.
To honor Skye’s memory, just a year after she passed away, the Lone Peak High School chapter of the National Honor Society is running a fundraiser with custom socks available to purchase and all proceeds will be donated to Eagle Mount, a nonprofit that provides adaptive outdoor programs for those with physical or mental limitations.
Starting in first grade, Eagle Mount volunteers took Skye skiing every ski Friday.
“After seeing Skye screaming with enjoyment coming down the mountain in her sit ski and laughing her head off at the stories and songs that were told to her on the chairlift, we decided to ask Eagle Mount to work with her on some weekends over the next few years,” Paul said.
Skye Aurora Swenson had been a member of the LPHS Class of 2021 since Kindergarten. She passed away Feb. 20, 2020 from complications of congenital cytomegalovirus, a leading cause of hearing loss which can cause other long term neurologic disabilities. Her memorial services were postponed due to shutdowns caused by COVID-19, but, according to her father, Skye’s classmates wrote letters, made a video, then finally had the opportunity to attend her memorial in September 2020.
“To see Skye’s memory live on in her senior class this year is very special and heartfelt,” Swenson said.
Live on it does, in the special designs created by Skye’s classmates for the fundraiser. There are two designs to choose from—purple with butterflies, or pink with cats. Two talented artists in the senior class, Amelia Fischer and Brooke Meredith, created the designs based on ideas generated during a special meeting of the senior class.
“When we thought of Skye, some of the words that people came up with were laughing, cats, smiling, pink and purple, butterflies, colorful and happy,” said senior Lyli McCarthy, a member of NHS and leader of the fundraising effort.
McCarthy came up with the idea for the fundraiser when NHS was looking for more COVID-friendly projects to do last fall.
“A wonderful girl named Skye Swenson passed away last February and I want to make sure that her memory was not forgotten in our school and community,” McCarthy said. “She loved to talk about her fun and colorful socks, and I thought a sock fundraiser would be a great way to honor Skye. All of the profits will go to Eagle Mount, which helped Skye with all the outdoor activities we get to enjoy here.”
McCarthy approached Mr. Swenson in the fall of 2020 and asked for permission to organize the fundraiser in Skye’s name. He immediately gave permission and expressed excitement over the project.
The fundraiser has been a team effort with several senior students pitching in. Carly Wilson was in charge of coordinating with Eagle Mount, Samantha Suazo helped to advertise the fundraiser and get the word out, and NHS president Michael Romney provided support for the project.
The faculty advisor for NHS, Dr. Kate Eisele, explained that McCarthy has been leading the charge on this project with the help and support of the entire senior class. She said her main contribution as advisor was to help McCarthy find the website Custom Sock Shop, as she was struggling to find a site that could accommodate the needs of the project.
Once she was in contact with the company, McCarthy was able to send in the custom designs for revision and the site provided a proof with the patterns. The socks are $20 a pair and sales close at midnight on Jan. 30. After that, production of the socks will start, and they will all be shipped to LPHS. When the socks are received by Dr. Eisele, emails will be sent out with dates and times to pick up the socks at LPHS or at Eagle Mount in Bozeman.
Skye’s memory lives on in the thoughtfulness of her classmates, and through the socks, she will be with them for their high school graduation.
“My class plans to wear the socks at graduation to honor Skye while we are on our way off to college,” McCarthy said. “We hope this project will continue in the years to come with the NHS to carry it out.”
Visit customsockshop.com/skye-swenson-sock-fundraiser to purchase socks.