Japanese Club Finishes Origami Crane Project to Support Charlee Rae

Images courtesy of the Gribble family.

Story by Chelsea Sydnor

The Japanese Language and Culture Club has completed its year-long effort to support the family of a Gardner-Webb professor.

Charlee Rae with 1,000 paper cranes

The group has been working to fold 1,000 paper cranes since its formation in the fall of 2015. Their efforts were in support of the family of Gardner-Webb alumnus and American Sign Language professor Russ Gribble. Gribble’s daughter, Charlee Rae, was undergoing treatment for a rare genetic disorder, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I, at the time. They also raised more than $100 for the family to assist with medical expenses.

According to Praise Gardea, Japanese Club president, she and the other officers from last year, including former president Nikole Roland and secretary Eddrinia Jordan, were looking for a way to serve around campus. To coincide with Japanese culture, they chose to fold the traditional 1,000 paper cranes for someone that is sick.

“We added a Christian aspect as well,” said Gardea. “Instead of just hope and miracles, the cranes represent prayers for Charlee Rae.”

Similar efforts came together in support of the family over the past year. In November 2015, Dr. Pagcaliwagan, Japanese Club advisor and professor of French and Spanish, hosted a fudge-baking competition. The proceeds of the event went toward the Gribble family.

For Gardea, the best part of the project has been seeing so many students and other members of the GWU community become involved through bi-monthly “folding parties.”

“At our last folding party, many athletes stopped to fold cranes at our table outside the Caf,” she said. “It was fun to see them encourage their classmates to stop and fold cranes with them.”

Though the project was difficult and frustrating at times, Gardea says that the importance of the cause at hand kept them dedicated.

“We wanted to let Charlee and her family know that we are praying for them, and will continue to do so.”

According to Professor Gribble, he and his family were overwhelmed by the support of the Japanese Club, and loved receiving the cranes.

“We are humbly grateful for all who believe in prayers,” he said. “Prayers are powerful when many come together to pray. ‘He hears our hearts,’ (Romans 8:26).”

Origami Paper Crane

According to the Gribble family, cranes had previously been part of their journey. In August of 2015, after Charlee Rae received donor cells, she was given an “engraftment charm” shaped like a crane, adding even more significance to the symbol.

In the future, the Japanese Club plans to continue working on service projects, while also hosting social events. Ultimately, they would like to see Japanese offered in the Gardner-Webb curriculum.

“There are more than 1,000 characters to learn for proficiency in the language,” Gardea said. “We have held Japanese lessons before, and we would like to advertise them more to other students.”

For more information about the Japanese Club, contact Praise Gardea at pgardea@gardner-webb.edu, or Dr. Pagcaliwagan at lpagcaliwagan@gardner-webb.edu.

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