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Deseret Morning News: Students come through for Garrett

This is the first story I've seen about Garrett Bardsley since a week or so after his disappearance in August, when the search effort switched from "rescue" to "recovery." The story dropped right out of the news at that point, typical for stories of this type.

Entire story quoted below.

They raise nearly $17,000 to build school in Ecuador

SPANISH FORK—Garrett Bardsley never walked the halls of the Spanish Fork Middle School, never had the chance to play on a football team with his friends.

Kevin Bardsley with Spanish Fork Middle School students
Garrett's father, Kevin Bardsley, gets a hug from Ashley Webb, a seventh-grader at Spanish Fork Middle School, which Garrett was scheduled to attend. Behind them is pile of backpacks the students collected. They also raised $16,865.01 in Garrett's name. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News)
Nevertheless, the 12-year-old boy, presumed dead after disappearing during an August Boy Scout camping trip in the High Uintas, was named Thursday as the team's honorary most valuable player—and more.

The middle-school students who never had a chance to sit by him in class raised nearly $17,000 for a school in Ecuador that will bear his name. The Garrett Bardsley Memorial School will be built in Sigsig, Ecuador, in December by his family, friends and people who want to help mark his short life.

"Every time we thought we were there, that we were through, more money came in," said Principal Steve Dudley. "Last night we sent the check over to be made, and within a half an hour, we had another $1,500."

The total came to $16,865.01. Originally, students were asked to raise $5,000 and gather 300 backpacks for the four-room school.

Dudley said the students raised considerably more than projected. They also gathered many more backpacks—1,100 in all.

Benjamin Snarr of Engage Now, a service organization involved in community projects in Africa and South and Central America, said he will leave Oct. 16 for Ecuador to start pouring footings for the school.

Fifty-two others will join him in December and work for two weeks on the school. Now, because students raised so much money, crews can also build a library at the school site.

Garrett's father, Kevin Bardsley, was overwhelmed at the students' generosity.

"Garrett was looking forward to coming here this year and being part of you," he said, choking back the emotion. "Instead, you've become part of us."

Bardsley said he and others are still searching for Garrett, who left his father's side early Aug. 20 while fishing at Cuberant Lake. Garrett headed back to camp to change out of his wet clothes. He never returned.

"We still search every week. Some of you can't come with us, so you found a way to do your part," he said. "You have made our heart a little bit easier to handle the hole in it."

Bardsley told the 1,400 middle school students that if any of them ever become lost, someone will come looking. "Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to sit still for a few minutes and wait because someone will come," he said.

Heidi Bardsley, Garrett's mother, said the school-construction project is helping the family heal. "It gives us another focus. It helps," she said.

"It's been touching, seriously," said student Camille Bird. "I've learned a lot, and if any of us were lost, we would expect people to help us."

Student Paige Sanford said she's thought a lot about how Garrett must have felt and how afraid he might have been.

Still, said Garrett's friend Devyn Wilson, "He'd probably blush about all this fuss."