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Roseville teen chooses to give up Make-A-Wish

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Very few people are ever given the opportunity to have their one wish come true. Roseville teen Evan Artica had that chance, but he chose not to take it. Artica, 16, was diagnosed with mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer in the jaw, almost two years ago. After being granted a wish through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Artica said he was going back and forth as to what he wanted to do. Following a year of careful consideration, he finally decided what he wanted to do with it — he decided to pay it forward. Artica, who began his junior year at Roseville High School Thursday, gave the wish to the Peer Helping Program at the school. “It is a very unique wish,” said Joanie Johnston, wish director for Make-a-Wish Foundation. “I’ve been here almost four years and I have not seen one like this.” The announcement was made at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville Friday morning while live on the air with KNCI’s Pat and Tom, amid cheering spectators and a tearful Peer Helping Program director Valerie Erb. “They say the greatest honor for a teacher is the day you know that your students have surpassed you,” Erb said. “He’s far beyond who I could ever dream to become.” Erb began the Peer Helping Program at Roseville High School five years ago and works with students on campus to become peer leaders and help out those who are hurting or in need. “She teaches them everything from conflict management to self confidence, making good choices, anti-drug and anti-bullying messages,” said Brad Basham, principal at Roseville High School. “These same kids become leaders and examples on campus.” Artica said he chose to give the wish to Erb and the Peer Helping Program because of the leadership and inspiration she has provided not only for him, but for so many other students on campus. “I’m just one student that has gone through one big thing, but she helps tons of kids,” the teenager said. “I know the best thing to do is give it to her because she could probably do a lot more than I ever could.” Artica underwent extensive reconstructive surgery after doctors replaced a major portion of his jaw with bone tissue from his fibula and a metal plate in an attempt to remove the tumor. His cancer went into remission in July and he and his family expect he will make a full recovery. Artica has since become a captain on the Roseville High School water polo team and an accomplished competitive swimmer. “Evan is an example of unselfishness and just caring and giving to others,” Basham said. “I can see him making a huge impression on the world. We are blessed to have him as a student at Roseville High School.” As for the wish, Erb was presented a $6,000 check from the Make-a-Wish Foundation Friday to be used however she sees fit for the Peer Helping Program. She said she is not yet sure how she is going to use the money, but said she is going to work with Artica in finding a way to help more lost and hurt students. “Whether it can be used to put a powerful video together that can be used on other school campuses, or training other people on other campuses to be peer helpers,” she said. “It will be some way to pay it forward with Evan’s name attached.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.