In March 2013, the students of Clayton Middle School's Gifted and Talented program collected non-perishable supplies and cash donations for the Veteran's Guest HouseOpen in New Window in Reno. As a thank you for their community service and support of veterans and their families, I donated a visit to their school to talk about my novel, Bull Rider.

Suzanne, Maddie &  Ms. RasmussenThe school visit was arranged by student, Maddie Reese and her family. Maddie had read Bull Rider and sent me a letter that said, in part, "I saw from your website that you work with schools; however, I do not believe our school would be able to afford very much . . . Your book really helped me to understand TBI's and the impact they have on families. You see, my step-dad served in the U.S. Marine Corps. in Iraq and he came home with a TBI. He is doing well but he gets very bad headaches some days. If you would be interested in my idea, perhaps we could meet or make arrangements with my teacher –"


Donations for Guest HouseMaddie's letter started us planning. I received a grant in 2012 from Nevada Arts CouncilOpen in New Window to model school visits just like this – donating my speaking fee in exchange for the students doing a major community project serving wounded veterans. I'd had three successful visits in Pennsylvania, so we used those to design this one. The Clayton kids collected several bins of toilet paper, zip lock bags, canned goods, cleaning products – you name it – along with about three hundred dollars in change for the Veteran's Guest House. They learned what a difference one idea and people working together can make in their communities, and I was happy to share Bull Rider's story with them.

Please click hereOpen in a New Window to see the April 28th article that was in in the Reno Gazette Journal.

If your school would like to discuss arranging a school visit like this, contact me at And thanks again to Clayton students for a great job!