Ayik Family Journey
Evren and Kara Ayik – Evren is a recent high school graduate who lives in Merced, California, and who has ASMD. He plans to start Fresno State University this fall to become a special education teacher. His mother Kara likes to encourage him to stretch his wings and play an active role in making the world a better place to be. They share a love of animals and nature.
JULY 1, 2020
By Evren and Kara Ayik
Being a senior in high school in 2020 was different and disappointing because of Covid-19, but there were some special things that happened just for us. Across the country, people were doing random acts of kindness for seniors. One of the most popular events was the senior box adoption, which my family and I really enjoyed. The Facebook campaign was called “Adopt a Senior.” Someone from the community would choose a high school grad to create a gift basket for that contained mostly treats such as chips and candy, but also cards, gift cards, and other small surprises. Because I am the type of person who loves these kinds of treats and surprises, I was very pleased to be officially adopted twice. The first adoption was from a family friend who knew us for years, and she created a grad-themed basket, which was actually a plastic tub, with festive graduation decorations, Pringles, candy, mini-soda cans, and a gift card for one of my favorite places to eat, Five Guys.
The other adoption was also very special. In my junior year, I was interviewed by the local American Legion Post 83 as a candidate for Boy’s State, which is a week-long government and civics program for high school students from around the state that takes places in Sacramento, the state capital. I was ultimately chosen to go as the representative from my high school, and the week-long camp is one of my favorite memories of all times. Anyway – the Post heard about the campaign and decided to sponsor some of their Boys’ and Girls’ State representatives. So, they called my mom to find out what kinds of treats I liked. She told them about my favorite candy, Sour Patch and Hershey’s chocolate, and also about my love for certain Hostess products, Pringles, and my personal interest in meaningful keepsake items. (And yes, my mother absolutely hates it that I like Sour-Patch candy, which are terrible for my teeth. I have to hide it from her.) The day before graduation, two uniformed members of Post 83 came to my door with an American-flag themed shopping bag filled with tons of goodies that included a beautiful American Legion commemorative coin, a pen, and other memorabilia, and gift cards for Starbucks and Amazon. I was impressed that they managed to find an American-flag themed can of Pringles and also a beach ball, which is floating around the house somewhere at the moment. The bag’s handle even had a little graduation tassel key chain attached. It was a complete surprise! Receiving the wonderful bag created a terrific memory for me.
My family also adopted three graduating seniors with my grandparents choosing one of my closest friends, and my mother choosing two boys who had especially kind personalities. It was a lot of fun to put the baskets together with treats and little gifts such as a small set of tools for one boy, and a gift card for the other. One item in each basket was a bottle of pink sparkling apple juice, AKA “champagne.” We included a graduation card and a little painted rock with each boy’s name in their baskets.
While graduation was certainly not what I had expected this year, I am thankful for the surprises and the memories that the Adopt-a-Senior box event created in my timeline. I might also add that it was as much fun to make the baskets as it was to receive them. I hope our baskets made our adopted seniors feel as special as mine did for me.