Students at Dora schools lost a classmate in an automobile accident last weekend. In a show of support to Clayton Stokes’ family, students donated more than $6,000 to help with their friend’s funeral expenses. That was money they’d been saving for their school prom.
Now eastern New Mexico residents are responding to the students’ gesture with another round of kindness. A local radio station on Wednesday asked listeners to help replace the prom money — and listeners responded with pledges of more than $16,800 by early evening.
“We’ve already more than replaced the money for the prom,” said Steve Rooney of radio station KSEL. “The rest of the money Dora can use for its discretion for class funds from grades seven-through-12 and for a scholarship fund in Clayton’s name.”
Dora is located 13 miles south of Portales. About 90 students attend the school’s seventh through 12th grades.
Dora principal Bill Stockton said his students decided to make a donation to the Stokes family after a memorial assembly for Clayton, who was 16, on Monday morning.
“This was an impromptu act,” Stockton said. “In a small school when you lose a student it’s like you lose one of your own family members. They (students) thought, ‘What could they do for the Stokes’ family?’ They wanted to donate their class funds and they said it doesn’t matter if we don’t have a fancy prom. We want to help Clayton.”
The show of selflessness attracted the attention of Rooney and his radio partner Jeff McNaughton.
“We read the paper and that … caught my attention,” said Rooney, president of Rooney/Moon Broadcasting Inc. “We thought it was a thoughtful gesture. Reading between the lines, it showed that the young man was more important to them than their prom.”
Stockton agreed to go on the Rooney/Moon radio show on Wednesday morning after learning of the fund-raiser plans.
Rooney estimated it took about three hours to raise most of the money.
Rooney said the first donation came from Mike Knight, owner of the Rib Crib in Clovis, who said he would be delighted to cater the Dora prom. The second call was from John Snowberger of McDonald’s in Portales who pledged $1,000 for the scholarship fund. Rooney said Bank of America in Clovis and Tankersley’s arranged to have rental tuxedos for the boys.
“We’ve had success with these types of things and the community has really supported us,” Rooney said.
Stockton said donations have also been offered from the junior classes in Grady, Logan and Floyd.
The Dora juniors are having a fund-raising dance after the basketball games at Dora on Friday. Stockton said the dance will take place in the Dora ag shop around 10 p.m.