Puppy Love


Photographer: Kendall Jacobs

Danyell Long, News Editor

Early January brought heartbreaking news for the students of MIA, but especially for teacher and mentor, Michael Butler. Caribou Lou, not only Butler’s dog, but best friend and companion, was diagnosed with bone cancer in her front leg. 

Butler had a discussion with his mentoring class about goals the previous week, and one of his goals was to pay off his debt. While other students empathized with Butler and the sad news about Caribou’s diagnosis, Rachel Drake saw it as the perfect opportunity to step in and try to help. 

After brainstorming ideas, she decided to start a “GoFundMe ”page to help pay for the surgeries expenses. “I knew that the surgery would be costly, and didn’t want him to go through more than he already was by stressing about money,” Drake said. “I’m not sure if determination was the feeling I was experiencing, but when coming up with the idea I was excited to jump on it because being able to help someone and see the smile on their face is such a good feeling.” 

Drake went home that day with the idea still fresh in her mind and brought it up to her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Drake were extremely supportive of the idea and recommended she talk to MIA Principal, Melissa Scott, because they didn’t know if it would cause a conflicting interest with the school. Scott thought it would be a great idea and seemed “touched” by this act of kindness coming from one of her very own students. “She seemed excited to see the outcome”, Drake recalls. After she was granted approval, the “GoFundMe” was created and ready to be shared with the public.

Snapchat and Instagram were just a few of the social media platforms that Drake forwarded the “GoFundMe” page to, in hopes of other people helping with the cause. Meanwhile, her parents sent it around Facebook so that their friends and family could donate as well. “When I started the page, I felt very excited – hoping that the word would get around quickly, and that many people would donate” she said. With the help of many others, the word rapidly spread and donations were coming in left and right. Even individuals who didn’t know Butler were donating, as well as friends of friends. 

As each contribution was made, donors had the ability to leave a comment on Caribou’s page. All the comments were very optimistic and uplifting, with one comment even reading, “Mr. Butler is one of the people at my school that I have grown close with. He does so much for me and everyone at our school. He is a genuine, kind man.”, written by Matthew Vergo.  Another comment reading, “Brody Atticus asked me to donate for his girlfriend. He loves Caribou very much, and so do I”, left by Principal Scott. 

The final outcome of Drake’s “GoFundMe” was miraculous. With 44 students, 10 staff members, and 7 MIA graduates students who donated, the page was able to meet the goal for Caribou’s surgery – getting a total of $4,180 in a matter of 17 days (which was more than the goal was set for). 

Butler said, “Two weeks after the surgery, Caribou, is up walking and running –  overall she’s doing well.” Not only is Caribou up and at’em, she is also going places such as back to school with Butler and to events like the Car Show on Marco Island.  

Even through hardship, the Marco Island community was able to come together to give support to someone in need. “I definitely think that this made our school and community closer,” Drake explained. “It showed that the individuals in this community really care and will gather to help someone who’s going through a tough time.” For many, the “GoFundMe” really revealed to them how much people care about others around them. Butler himself said the whole situation showed him a lot, due to so many people’s support. Kids who work almost everyday donated as well as those whom Butler had never met. 

Because of all the help from the community, the donations, and Rachel Drake’s actions to design the page, the “GoFundMe” was a success and so was Caribou’s recovery.