Students honor Beth Dunlap through #18for18


Courtesy of Twitter

Teachers at Downers Grove South High School wear shirts that honor Beth Dunlap.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,” chant students in Mrs. Lynn Hatzikostantsis’ group fitness class as they do 18 push-ups.

These students participated in the #18for18 challenge to honor Beth Dunlap, a junior at Downers Grove North High School, who died from injuries caused by a drunk driver.

Courtesy of
Beth Dunlap, a Downers Grove North junior, is remembered as a strong volleyball player and an amazing friend.

On Feb. 19, Beth was hit by a driver under the influence while crossing the street close to her school. On Feb. 21, Beth was taken off of life support as she had unrecoverable injuries.

“Beth truly was a stellar athlete and an amazing friend. She was always the first one to practice and the last one to leave,” said Lindsay Knutson, senior volleyball player who had played with Beth outside of school. “She was a natural born leader and everyone would gravitate towards her.”

To honor Beth, the Dunlap family asked that their community engage in 18 acts of kindness, or 18 extra sets of anything, because Beth’s jersey number had always been 18 ever since she began to play volleyball.

Instead of giving flowers, the Dunlap family asked that people donate to the Beth Dunlap 18 Foundation which was formed to start a private charitable fund to benefit underprivileged youth volleyball players.

Students and teachers began to honor Beth through #18for18, as seen by Hatzikostantsis’ group fitness class.

“When I read that her family was asking for the community to support them by honoring their daughter with doing this challenge and tweeting #18for18, I began thinking about things I could do with my classes to honor Beth, support her family, support my students who knew her, and our DGN community,” Hatzikostantsis said.  “I believe that when terrible, unexplainable things happen, it is important to try to support those affected as best you can.”

Courtesy of
Downer Grove North students gather at a memorial for Beth at the crosswalk where she was hit.

Hatzikostantsis not only engaged her group fitness classes in this movement but also her sports medicine class. She gave her students a worksheet to fill out with 18 random acts of kindness they could do during spring.

I want my students to reach out to others when they are in need.  I want my students to understand that it is OK to break from the normal curriculum in class to contribute to something, a movement, that is bigger than ourselves and our own daily stressors,” Hatzikostantsis said.  “That’s what being a part of a community is all about, helping one another.”

Students in Hatzikostantsis class, who didn’t personally know Beth, said that they felt the effect of the challenge.

“The experience was really meaningful to me, especially because as I did all the exercises in a circle with my class, the 18for18 challenge felt like a shared experience with my community. We all were silently reflecting and it felt like everyone was there for support,” said Addie Li, junior.

Hatzikostantsis’ classes weren’t the only ones to participate in #18for18. The Hinsdale Drama Club performed 18 seconds of a part of their upcoming musical, The Addams Family. The weight training classes also did 18 jumping jacks.

When you search #18for18 on social media, a whole stream of videos appears of students and teams engaging in 18 seconds of an activity or 18 exercises. 

“I think every time something tragic like this happens it causes people to think about their lives more. I think for me it’s just recognizing and appreciating how lucky I am,” said Sam Moriarty, senior.

For those who wish to further honor Beth, the trust fund for the Beth Dunlap 18 Foundation is set up at Chase Bank, and donations can be made through any Chase location.