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Tragedy inspires South High senior to give back

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 21, 2014, at 7:38 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 8:05 a.m.

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Uncle Cliff meant the world to Alex Barton.

Cliff Davis, 41, wasn’t really Barton’s uncle. But he was “like my uncle,” she said.

A close friend of her father, Davis used to take Barton to get cheesy fries at Bionic Burger when she was little and bought her birthday gifts.

“She adored Cliff,” said Christina Barton, Alex’s mother.

Davis was killed Jan. 18 in a fire at his west Wichita duplex.

That broke Barton’s heart. But when she learned that Davis might have escaped the fire if his duplex had had a working smoke detector, she decided to do something about it.

A senior at South High, she will start selling yellow bracelets with the message “Smoke Detectors Save Lives” for $1 each at school.

The money will go to a fund already established by Davis’ family to buy smoke detectors to give to the the Wichita Fire Department. Those detectors are given to residents who don’t have the money to buy their own.

The family has already raised nearly $1,100, said Tylee Davis, Cliff’s sister. Contributions to the fund can be sent to any Emprise Bank with the checks made out to the Cliff Davis Memorial Fund.

Barton will sell the bracelets starting Monday at South’s front entrance during lunchtime.

“It’s the least I can do,” she said.

Barton originally planned to hold a bake sale at school, but she said that plan was nixed by the principal because of a policy that limits sweets sold at school.

“It’s understandable because school is all about health,” she said.

So Barton landed on the bracelet idea and only had to find a teacher to sponsor the fundraiser, as required by the school. Kyle Haught, who teaches South’s fire science program, agreed to be the sponsor.

“It’s pretty rare to have a kid come up and say, ‘Hey, I want to help this group out,’ ” Haught said. “This is definitely a unique one.

“The fire department does a good job with their outreach program (of giving away smoke detectors), but they can use all the help they can get.”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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