Miles Blakley, a senior at Valley Vista High School in Surprise, recently participated in a school fundraising competition and because he raised the most money he was crowned “Mr. Popularity.” Miles awarded the money he raised to the ACLU. In his own words, Miles explains why he believes in the ACLU’s work and raised money at school for the organization.

My mother raised me to be a humanitarian, patriot, and most importantly, an internationalist. The understanding and intermingling of other cultures is vital to the American way, as we were founded upon the principle of freedom. Therefore, when I saw what the current administration had planned in terms of a “travel ban,” I had to step in. I had seen a multitude of reports by quite a few Democratic/civil rights groups advertising for and supporting, the ACLU. All things considered, I knew nothing about the organization until I started doing my research, and I have to say: I was taken aback by all of the amazing feats achieved by the group. From prisoner’s rights to LGBT rights, the ACLU has done it all. They were the ones rolling up their sleeves and putting their hearts into their work that allowed for such a free and open country. And so, with this newfound excitement and appreciation for this cause, and an outlet to work through, I was ready to be the one with the rolled sleeves and open heart.

So, for the week we were allotted to campaign, my friends and I would scour the lunch tables and classrooms asking for change (in both senses of the word). We would enlighten people on exactly what the ACLU does, not just for those of the liberal-minded, but for people as a whole. I’d like to think that we really spread the word on the message of equality and opportunity that the ACLU represents.In April of 2017, with the Trump administration in full swing, an opportunity arose for me to get started in this fight for freedom (and, hopefully, a chance to get other young people interested in the sustaining of basic human rights). Applications were open for the Mr. Monsoon “male pageant” at my high school. A part of this “pageant” is to raise money for your charity of choice, and so, naturally, I chose the ACLU. Whoever raised the most money for their charity won the title of “Mr. Popularity,” while the winner of the pageant show (a combination of a talent portion, toga modeling, a quiz portion, and tuxedo modeling), was crowned “Mr. Monsoon.” Needless to say, I couldn’t care less about the modeling portion, I was in this to help people.

After a week of campaigning, the big night finally came. I “flawlessly” performed Vanilla Ice’s lesser-known song, “Ninja Rap,” from the hit movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze, which was then followed by all of the aforementioned segments of the show. Then, finally, after a long intermission, the moment finally came where the winners were to be crowned. I was named“Mr. Popularity.” The lump sum of everyone’s donations was sent to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the rest is history. 

In all actuality, I am so happy that we were able to achieve this for liberty, justice, and freedom, for all.       

Miles Blakely, class of 2017.

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