The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The Story Behind the Legacy

Hope.

Noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  

Verb: wanting something to happen or be the case.  

Neither of these definitions provide a clear understanding of what it feels like to give hope, to be the one spreading it. While mom and teacher Laurina Barker is not a certified dictionary, she can indeed provide hope to those around her.  

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At Barker’s 20-week pregnancy checkup, she learned her second son, Matthew Barker, would be born with a rare condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH. This occurs when there is a hole in the diaphragm, causing the baby’s organs to enter their chest cavity. This compresses the lungs and can cause serious issues. Her son was delivered via Cesarean Section and immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  

“We just had to keep knowing that he had the perfect medical team and faith in medicine and the advancements they’ve made,” Barker said. “And they were going to do everything they can to keep him safe and with us to the point where he could have surgery.”  

With the power of modern-day medicine, Barker had a successful C-section where Matthew was delivered safely. Barker knew the journey was far from over, but she knew that Matthew had fight in him.  

“He was on ventilator, when they would need to sedate him and he was on a lot of different meds at the time, he was just feisty,” Barker said.  

While her newborn resided in the NICU, her and her husband lived in the Ronald McDonald House.  

“The Ronald McDonald House is a nationwide organization, funded by their corporation but run by volunteers,” Barker said. “It’s the ability for a family who is more than 45 miles away from home to stay where their child is receiving treatment.”  

Not only does the house provide a place to live for the family while the child is staying at a hospital, they also provide all meals and food for the families. 

“They provide three meals a day for families, there’s volunteers who cook dinners for you if you want,” Barker said.   

Through her family’s journey with the Ronald McDonald House and Seattle Children’s Hospital, Barker learned about something called guilds. Guilds are non-profit charity organizations under the umbrella of the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, and the members of a guild choose where the money they raise is donated.  

“I’ve always been very adamant about wanting to give back to my community, even through high school and I knew I wanted my kids to do that as well,” Barker said. “I was like ‘kids do you want to consider giving back?’ and we kind of started putting it into practice.”  

There was born the Barkers guild, A Brighter Future Guild. Her family, along with Matthew and his brother Ethan’s friends who have joined the cause, have done many things for Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. The guild focuses on raising money to offset costs for families staying at the hospital.  

What started out as the boys making homemade Harry Potter wands and selling them at events, asking for donations instead of presents at their birthday parties and wrangling their friend groups in to host a handful of lemonade stands over the summers, has turned into something much bigger than Barker ever imagined; their very own fun run, the Superhero 5K.  

“And then the idea of the run came up, the kids were pretty young it was probably 2019 when we did our first run and it became our first big event,” Barker said. “For our first big event we raised $20,000.”  

But the most fun of it came from organizing the run with her family.  

“It was really fun to orchestrate it with the kids and kind of solicit donations and get community members involved and get community sponsors,” Barker said.  

And while the chaos of the COVID-19 Pandemic left the world in their homes, the Superhero 5K persisted.  

“We did a virtual 5K which was still phenomenal, everybody still rallied around us and we still had a really great event,” Barker said.  

Since the now annual event has started, it has collected a bigger and bigger following with each year.   

“We did one in 2022 and in 2023, this last year was our biggest, it was the most well attended Superhero 5K that we’ve had, it’s just really exciting that we get to have these,” Barker said.   

Through it all, Barker and her family have been on both ends of the stick. She has the person searching for hope when it seems to be nowhere, when you have to dig deep and put faith into something you’re unsure of. But she has also been the person, alongside her family, to be able to distribute hope, and have the beautiful opportunity to spread it to others who may need it most.  

“I was hopeful about my child’s birth and that they [the medical team] were taking care of him, and hopeful for the medical plan,” Barker said. “And when it turned into something bigger, it turned into something where we’ve given hope to families.”

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About the Contributor
Maddy Weaver, Sports Editor
Junior Maddy Weaver is taking this course because she found a passion for sports journalism and telling people’s stories. Her favorite media project to work on is On The Sidelines, the sports section of the news broadcast show. She also loves writing for our school newspapers sports section. When you don't see her around the hall of PHS you can see her polishing her basketball skills or working at Picha Farms.

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