Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Daniel Reyes, 10, gaped out the window of the helicopter as it made its way through the jagged El Dorado Canyon on Saturday afternoon, unaware of what was to come.
He had been looking forward to this day since Dec. 7, when the nonprofit charity In12Days granted his prayers, giving him a scholarship to Mountain View Christian School. All he knew was his gift would be presented to him with the theme “10 Lords A-Leaping” to signify the 10th of 12 days of gift-giving that match the song “12 Days of Christmas.”
He was excited to learn that he’d get to ride in a helicopter, but that was nothing compared to what he saw next. The helicopter whirred over a curtain of mountains to unveil about 25 fifth-graders waving and holding up a sign that read: “Welcome Daniel to MVCS!”
At that moment, it all became real; they were going to be his classmates, and he was going to Mountain View Christian School to start middle school next year.
“Now I’m nervous,” Daniel said in awe.
It had been his dream to attend the school. He spent almost all his time there attending its church, competing on the Bible quiz team and serving on the youth ministry. He had a lot of friends there, but he would never be able to attend the school without the scholarship.
“It’s amazing,” said Diana Reyes, Daniel’s mom. “He was just praying that he would get that scholarship, that God would make a way for him to go to the school.”
Once he met the class, his nerves appeared to dissipate. His classmates welcomed him with a loud cheer, and then their activities started. They began with sifting through rocks on the canyon floor for silver and gold pieces. Later, they roasted marshmallows, visited a gold mine and shot BB guns.
Meanwhile, classmates introduced themselves to him and argued over whose homeroom he should be in. Science, history, computers and Bible teacher David Araujo said all the talk at the school had been about Daniel once they found out he received the scholarship.
“We were really excited for the family,” Araujo said. “I sing on the choir with his father, and Daniel is on our Bible quiz team, so I know how much he deserved it. They’re great people.”
In12Days CEO Suzanne Lea said Daniel was chosen for his desire to be a leader. Daniel was active in Boy Scouts and aspires to one day be a Navy SEAL.
“Here was a family that was a very strong, supportive family,” Lea said. “The mom and dad wanted it, they already believed in education ... and (Daniel) really wanted this opportunity.”
Daniel’s father, Elias Reyes, said the scholarship gives him and his wife peace of mind that their son will be around positive influences.
“We want him not just to survive but become a leader. Someone who finds fulfillment to help others,” Elias Reyes said. “(The scholarship) will help him accomplish that and hopefully accomplish happiness.”
Daniel said he is excited to start the new school year at Mountain View. He is looking forward to meeting new friends and playing for the basketball team.
He’ll probably be nervous again on his first day as he adjusts to his new surroundings, but if Saturday is any indication, the nerves won’t last long.