Giving back, one memory at a time
April 25, 2014
When Tina Skrukrud was in the seventh grade, her middle-school math teacher discovered that she had a learning issue and convinced her parents to get her the right treatment to keep her from failing out of school.
"At first I thought she was this mean person because she'd make me come in to school and do extra work, and then one day I thought, you know, she has to stay, too, and nobody's paying her to do this," Skrukrud told The Union.
"One educator can make a difference in someone's life, and my seventh-grade math teacher changed my life forever."
She added, "When I started getting on the school board as a parent, I tried to think, 'Why am I doing all this?' I think I needed to give back to students, for what she did for me."
“One educator can make a difference in someone’s life, and my seventh-grade math teacher changed my life forever.”
And Skrukrud has done it in a big way.
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As a member of the Pleasant Valley school board, the new Penn Valley Union school board, Soroptimist International, and as a former member of the Penn Valley Community Foundation board and chamber board and other groups and organizations that give back to the community, Skrukrud, a mortgage agent, keeps her hands busy by putting them in various cookie jars.
But one of her biggest events of the year is the Nevada Union High School Grad Night, which she has helped organize since 2003.
Lynda Miller has volunteered to help with NU Grad Night for five years and says that Skrukrud puts in more effort than anyone else.
"Tina is amazing," Miller said.
"She knows the NU Grad Night down cold, and she's got all sorts of ideas and recommendations. I don't know what the grad night event would be without Tina. She really is the glue."
Skrukrud says that she usually starts planning for the event, which will be held on June 7 at Club Sierra Sports and Fitness Center, in January. This year, though, Skrukrud has had time issues on planning due to a life-threatening illness she contracted in December.
"I got sick with the H1N1 flu, and I didn't get to work till March," Skrukrud said.
"I was sent to Sutter Memorial in Sacramento, lights and sirens, and was there for three weeks."
Skrukrud said her condition was so bad that doctors had to place her into a self-induced paralysis just to relax her throat to give her the treatment she needed. After her hospital stay, Skrukrud said her muscle mass decreased.
"I was at a rehab hospital here at Spring Hill manor for a week. So each day it's getting stronger, but it's still not my voice," Skrukrud said.
As chair of the grad night committee, Skrukrud reaches out to rally all 165 volunteers who are essential for the event's activities. The night runs from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. and gives students a free gym bag to carry their stuff in the whole night, with toys and cash prizes.
The night also features a diverse maze of theme rooms that offer students sumo wrestling, casino games, massage tables, swimming, a coffee and smoothie bar, inflatable obstacle courses, group picture-taking, dancing, nails and henna tattoos and an hour-long hypnotism event.
Amanda Connell, a 2003 NU graduate and grad night volunteer, told The Union that grad night gives seniors a chance to say goodbye.
"For a lot of the students, it's their last hurrah that they get to spend with their classmates and their friends before they go on with the rest of their lives," Connell said. "It gives them something to have fun with and enjoy, while also keeping them safe."
Skrukrud says the NU Grad Night is a deterrent for seniors who would regularly go out and get in trouble, get hurt or hurt someone else on what Skrukrud calls the deadliest night of the year. But more than a deterrent, the grad night is an opportunity for seniors to make memories that will last.
"There was a girl with a messed-up leg once, who tore her knee up at the sumo ring. Our doctor patched her up, got a wheelchair for her and told her she needed to leave but she didn't want to go," Skrukrud said.
"It was crazy because the whole night, two guys stayed by her side and took care of her and did everything with her."
Skrukrud said when the girl's mom came to pick her up, she asked the girl, "Was it worth it?
"And she said 'Yeah, I just made two of the best friends I've ever had.' I was thinking these two guys were childhood friends but she had seen them in classes, and they had never talked. But they became really close with her all night, and they met that night."
While the night is fun for most students, it is nearly a 24-hour workday for Skrukrud, who gets to the venue at 10 a.m. and leaves the following day at 8 a.m. The entire night costs the committee around $25,000. The cost to students is $45, which usually makes up $15,000 of the event costs.
To raise the rest of the money, Skrukrud says the grad night's six-person committee sends out mailers to parents and goes door-to-door to different businesses to collect prizes and donations.
"That's what I'm really short of this year, getting prizes from local businesses. I don't have the help, and we really need help with fundraising," Skrukrud said.
Fundraising Chair Lauren Fasciano says Skrukrud is the only reason the grad-night planning is staying afloat and hasn't fallen by the wayside.
"If Tina were to go away, I don't think this program would be sustainable because there's just nobody picking up the slack," Fasciano told The Union.
"She's doing everything, and I have no idea why she does it."
While Skrukrud says the grad night has just 40 volunteers of the 165 that they need to run a successful night, she says that she will be running on adrenaline. But because of her condition, she hopes that people sign up and lend her a hand.
"It's just fun and rewarding, and the kids just have such a blast," Skrukrud said.
"A lot of the kids afterward always end up saying, 'That was the best night of my life,' and I think it's just cool because I like to do things to help kids."
For more information about volunteering or donating to NU Grad Night, contact Skrukrud at Tina@TinaHomeLoans.com, or call her at 530-713-2296
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.