Walking to school or around town is quite a bit more challenging for Brooks Guif than for other students at Badger High School.
Guif, 17, a junior who has cerebral palsy, said although he does not allow his disability to deter him, he would like to be more mobile and independent.
His fellow students at Badger are trying to help Guif achieve that goal by raising funds to buy him an electric bike.
“It would definitely help me get around,” he said.
Badger assistant principal Michael Giovingo, who works with Guif on mobility skills after school, said he thought of the fundraiser during summer when he saw other students out and about in the community.
Giovingo then presented the fundraiser idea to the school’s new freshman class as a community service project.
“I see other kids in downtown Lake Geneva, enjoying the beauty of the lake or riding their bikes,” Giovingo said. “And I think, ‘Why can’t Brooks do that?’”
So the school’s freshman class partnered with a student mentor program and Bittner’s Bakery to launch a fundraiser called “Pies for Brooks.”
Through Nov. 18, contributors orders pies from Bittner’s for $15 each — pumpkin, apple or pecan — and the proceeds go to pay for Guif’s new electric bike.
Amy Peterburs-Bittner, owner of Bittner’s Bakery, 495 Interchange North, said Giovingo was her tennis coach when she attended Badger. So she is happy to help with his fundraiser idea.
“It helps get our pies out, and it helps someone who is in need,” Peterburs-Bittner said. “So it’s a win-win.”
More than 50 orders for pies have been placed online already, and students are working to collect more orders in person.
The goal is to raise between $4,000 and $5,000, which is the average cost for an electric bike and accessories. An electric bike is similar to a traditional bicycle except that it includes a motor powered by a battery to assist with the pedaling.
Brooks Guif’s mother, Susan Guif, said her son is an inspiration to other Badger students, as well as other people in his life.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s just amazing.”
Susan Guif said she hopes the fundraiser is successful in providing her son with an electric bike, because it would help him become more independent.
“I can’t even tell you how important it is for him,” she said. “For him to be able to say, ‘Hey, mom, I got this bike,’ is going to be a huge plus for him.”
Brooks Guif, who says history is his favorite subject, has attended Badger since his freshman year.
Giovingo said Guif has worked with teachers and mentors to overcome early issues with grades and attendance, and has improved his academic performance significantly.
“Brooks has really turned the corner,” Giovingo said.
In addition to getting good grades, Guif has started staying after school to work on his physical conditioning. He has a strong interest in athletics and serves as a manager for the Badger baseball team.
He advises pitchers on their throwing mechanics, and he motivates the team before each game.
Guif once served as a pinch runner for the team last season. His long-term goal: pitching an entire inning for the team before he graduates from Badger.
“Not only am I speaking about being better and striving to be better, I want to show that,” he said. “The only way to show that is by doing something that nobody said I could do.”
He also hopes to create a flag football team at Badger. Were it not for his cerebral palsy disability, Guif believes he would be playing on the school’s football team.
“With the circumstances I’ve been given, I just have to adapt,” he said. “The next best thing to that is flag football.”
Giovingo said the electric bicycle would help Guif travel around the community and help him continue to be physically active.
“That has become a passion of his, and I don’t want to to see that waning,” Giovingo said.
Guif said he looks forward to getting an electric bike, and someday to applying for a driver’s license.
Susan Guif said even though she, too, hopes Brooks obtains a driver’s license, for now, she would be delighted to see him improve his mobility with an electric bike.
“I’m not pushing him at this point,” she said of the driver’s license. “He’s got so many other great things going on that he will know when he is ready.”
How to help
Orders in the “Pies For Brooks” fundraiser can be placed only at https://www.schoolpay.com/pay/for/HOLIDAY-PIES-FOR-BROOKS/MdhK. Pies will be delivered for pickup Nov. 26 in the Badger cafeteria.