Dalton High School graduate designs this year’s Isabel Pridgen Charities Christmas ornament

December 16 – The Isabel Pridgen charity is selling ornaments again this holiday season to help families with children with cancer, and this year’s ornament was designed by Laken Land, a Westwood School alumnus and Dalton High School, which currently attends Virginia Tech University.

“Laken was my student,” and her mother, Dana Land, is an educator at Westwood, so this year “is really special,” said Marla Pridgen, assistant principal at Westwood and mother of Isabel, who died in 2014. “It means so much for Will (her husband) and me that she would take the time to do it, as a student doesn’t have a lot of free time, and she did it out of the goodness of her heart. “

“She is a precious young woman, as beautiful on the inside as on the outside,” added Marla Pridgen. “She actually sent us six different designs” to choose from for this year’s ornament, and after the couple picked one, Land sent them this design “in any color you can imagine.”

Land’s favorite among designs, a “classic” inspired by Christmas centerpieces that “have always been very pretty to me,” was the one chosen by the couple, said Land, a junior at Virginia Tech who studies industrial design and plans to go to law school. “I was really happy with the result, (especially) the colors, which are very vivid.”

Marla Pridgen is a “great lady” who saw Land’s abilities with art early on and “remembered” seeing t-shirts and stickers Land had made for her mother’s classes, a declared Land. “I’m so thankful that she reached out and that I could do something for someone other than me.”

This is the fifth year that the charity has sold ornaments, the proceeds of which are used to purchase gift cards for families of children with cancer at the Erlanger Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga and the Atlanta Children’s Hospital.

Many gift cards are for restaurants, and Starbucks is particularly popular, as children will “get out of bed after they finish chemotherapy (therapy)” and go down to Starbucks to use the gift cards, said Marla Pridgen. ITunes cards are also “incentives” for children undergoing cancer treatment.

“It really (impacted) us when we were ‘in Erlanger with Isabel, seeing other children battling cancer and their families, because’ we were all in the same boat, ‘she said. “You always think it happens to someone else, but it can happen to anyone, and we knew we wanted to do something to help if we ever could.”

Marla and Will adopted Isabel from a Chinese orphanage in 2009, and “she was a very sweet girl that we were lucky enough to have,” but was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Marla said. “After 24 days in the hospital, she passed away” in 2014.

“There’s a hole where it was, (but) we started (this) foundation, (which is) run by the” Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, and selling Christmas decorations turned out to be a fundraiser. ideal fund, she said. “We can run it in the background, and Isabel loved Christmas.”

The ornaments cost $ 15 and all proceeds go towards gift cards for children with cancer and their families, she said. The ornaments are available this holiday season at The Pine Needle and Raspberry Row.

In addition to the gift cards, the charity gives a scholarship of $ 1,000 per year to a member of the Dalton Public Schools group, as Isabel loved being a part of the group and the group members “were very supportive” when. ‘she was ill, said Marla Pridgen. “They all wore shirts to support her” during a match, for example.

Land’s ornament design incorporates the charity’s origami crane logo, which was designed by Isabel’s childhood best friend in her Chinese orphanage, which was adopted by a family of Oklahoma around the same time Marla and Will adopted Isabel, Marla Pridgen said. According to popular Japanese opinion, “If you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true.”

City Park School teacher Ric Murry, who was teaching at Dalton Middle School at the time, and members of his class folded 1,200 paper cranes, then took a bus to Chattanooga to deliver them to Isabel ill in order to demonstrate their ardent desire for his recovery, she said. .

“These cranes were hanging all over the hospital, and we were just devastated that they did.”

Land “really went above and beyond” with this year’s adornment, “and she’ll never know how much that means to us,” said Marla Pridgen. “It’s really lovely, and we really appreciate the people who buy” these ornaments, many of whom regularly send Pridgen and her family pictures of their collection of Isabel Pridgen Charities ornaments hanging on their trees.

“I knew people who knew Isabel, and I remember” the impact of her illness and death on “everyone”, so when the opportunity arose to “help the family now I absolutely wanted to do it, “said Land, a 2019 Dalton graduate. High school. At college, “I’m five hours from home, five hours from everyone, so it can feel a bit disconnected at times, but it’s nice to connect with everyone through an art like this -this.”

“I feel like I can serve the people and the Lord in this way,” said Land, who recently presented a pair of this year’s decorations to his grandparents. “This is my calling.”

“So many people have been through this with us and they continue to support us,” said Marla Pridgen. “It’s a sad story, but it’s also a sweet story.”

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