FCCLA sponsors this week’s football game in the name of the “Rae of Sunshine” foundation


Ahren Wagner

The “Rae of Sunshine” foundation T-shirt design for the Highlands High School football game against Ryle High School on September 17.

     According to the organization Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), 130 Americans take their own life every day.  

     Highlands High School Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), a student organization run within Highlands High School. Through their national organization, they selected the “Rae of Sunshine” foundation, which promotes this organization as their state-wide community service project. 

     This foundation was named in honor of Taylor Rae Nolan. 

     When she was born on April 28, 1999, her mother instantly knew she was a “ray of sunshine” with her olive skin, curly hair, and pretty red lips.

     Nolan went on to do many great things in her high school and college career. During her junior year in high school, she pursued one of her many dreams of becoming the first official state vice president of FCCLA. 

     After high school, Nolan continued her education locally at the University of Kentucky. Nolan quickly became a member of the student government and even joined the Kai Omega sorority.    

     Although, tragically, Nolan took her own life on January 8, 2019.

     Her family was devastated. Colton Nolan, her brother, insisted on starting the foundation in honor of her. With the help of family and friends, the “Rae of Sunshine” foundation emerged. Her mother, Talora, even started a “Smile Club” at her high school, Mary and Kenny High School, where she taught with a dedication to spreading positivity and mental health awareness.

     Kentucky State Vice President and Senior Ashley Coulter explained the reasoning for the choice in the organization.

     “We [the State Presidential Board of FCCLA] chose this [foundation] because it has a special connection to FCCLA and many members and advisors within FCCLA because Taylor Rae served as the first vice president of Kentucky FCCLA from 2015 to 2016.” 

     Coulter discussed how that the organization is more about general prevention. 

     “Rae of Sunshine is in support of mental health. It was started after former Kentucky state officer Tayler Rae Nolan, unfortunately, lost her life to suicide. Her mother, Talora, also superintendent of Mary and Kenny Schools, started this organization in support of preventing it from happening to another student.”

     “Rae of Sunshine” has many aspirations, however, they were able to boil down their ambitions into three goals. These three goals are to make information about mental health more accessible to the public, eliminate the stigma associated with mental health, and last, but most definitely not least, to promote kindness and positivity. 

     Currently, the foundation is working on the expansion of public knowledge of the organization’s existence and is traveling all over the world to gather support and establish new connections. The foundation has presented to over 20,000 people, 60 events, traveled 6,000 miles, and collected over 8,000 social media followers. They hope to become more well-known and have a willful group of supporters.

     FCCLA Member Junior Addy Wagner said, “The ‘Rae of Sunshine’ foundation is constantly looking for alliances and people to help spread the word to share Taylor’s story and prevent the situation from reoccurring.” 

     The FCCLA organization is going to be sponsoring the upcoming football game on September 17, while simultaneously selling T-shirts during and at the game, in which all the donations and profits will be donated to the “Rae of Sunshine” foundation. 

     Coulter said the cost of the T-shirts along with the donation amount would help two organizations. 

      “Ten dollars out of every fifteen-dollar T-shirt will be going to the ‘Rae of Sunshine’ foundation, the remaining five dollars will go to the Bluebird Embroidery for supplies for the business.”

     Supporting the game also comes with the burden of choosing the theme. Upon discussion, one theme seemed to fit the situation perfectly, neon.

     Wagner discussed the reason why the theme of neon correlates with this foundation.

     “The theme correlates with Rae of Sunshine, one of their main messages is to be a light, to smile, and to spread positivity.”        

     Tickets for the game against Ryle High School at home-field are sold here.