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Annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt raises money for Senior Survivor’s inclusive playground project

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An idea to bring together neighbors in one Howell neighborhood has blossomed into the annual Ellie Mae’s Easter Egg Hunt that this year raised $280 for the Howell Senior Survivor Playground Project.

Over 100 kids, nearly 4,000 eggs, and a donation box resulted in the money raised.

Over the years, Ellie Mae’s Easter Egg Hunt has grown bigger and bigger.

“The people participating have been wanting to donate to help offset our costs,” said Krissy Cox said, mother of the hunt’s namesake. “We were adamant about wanting to keep it free, but thought it would be a good idea to put out a donation box and we would donate those funds to a charity we chose.”

The last few years, donations have gone to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

But this year was different.

Ellie Mae Cox and Nathan Walker

The funds raised this year went to Ellie Mae’s best friend, Nathan Walker, who is a Junior Survivor in Howell High School’s annual “Senior Survivor” event.

Being a Junior Survivor means Nathan Walker is paired with a Senior Survivor, Jackson Dukes, in the annual fund-raising event that takes place for an entire week at Howell High School.

The competition, which began in 2008, has raised over $540,000 in its lifetime. Patterned after the television show “Survivor,” a group of high school seniors gets locked into Howell High School for an entire week. In order to avoid elimination, there are, of course, challenges, including raising money for the year’s chosen charity in a variety of ways, including business donations, T-shirt sales, bake sales, and cash donations from staff and students.

Past Senior Survivor recipients include the Mackenzie Watts Scholarship Fund (2008); Make-A-Wish (2009); C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (2010); Connection Youth Services (2011); ARC of Livingston (2012); Zac Cain Foundation and NAMI (2013); The Rainbow Connection (2014); Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan (2015); Stiggy’s Dogs (2016); American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (2017); LACASA/FARA (2018); North Star Reach/Juliann’s Wishes (2019); Special Olympics Michigan and United Way COVID-19 Relief (2020).

Cox is hoping that in addition to the money raised through the Easter Egg hunt, others in the community might take inspiration to hold other “out-of-the-box” events to raise more funds for the playground project.

The park will be built at Genoa Park, 2100 Dorr Road, Brighton.

The all-inclusive, nature-inspired playground will be for everyone in the community, no matter the ability level. The playground will be designed to provide a safe place for children of all abilities, and will offer a wide range of challenging play opportunities.

You can watch this video about this year’s Senior Survivor project here:

Follow Senior Survivor on Facebook.

Read more about this year’s project by clicking here.

Want to make a donation to the inclusive playground project? Click here. Junior Survivor donation page:

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