Breannas CarnivalStarting in 2008, two of my friends and I planned and put on a charity carnival to raise money for our dear friend and neighbor, Breanna Strange, who suffers from Dystonia. Dystonia is a rare neuro-muscular disorder that makes almost all voluntary muscle movements impossible. When she was seven years old (2007), we found out that she would be having a huge hip surgery resulting in her being in a full body cast for an extended period of time. As young children, eight, eleven, and thirteen, we couldn’t imagine what it would be like for our friend to go through that; so we knew we needed to help.

After tossing a few ideas back and forth, a neighborhood carnival seemed to be a good fit. We planned for months and months, preparing for the big day in June. Unsure of what would come of this; we went in with positive attitudes and lots of hope. After making it through the exhausting day, we deemed it a success due to the fact that we had raised over $1,000 that would go directly to her family. This event exceeded any expectations we had and absolutely shocked us.

At such a young age, we couldn’t even wrap out heads around what we had actually done. Since we were so proud of our success, we decided to make this an annual thing. Through rain and shine, we hosted a carnival every summer for the next six years to help her family in any way possible. All together, we raised over $7,500 for various things such as ramps on her house, spending money for a trip to New York for brain surgery, and help for an addition on the ground level of her house.

Although we will not be hosting a carnival this year, I spend every Thursday and Friday after school helping out Bre’s family by getting her off the bus, helping with homework, and just hanging out with her. Because she is the happiest girl I know, spending time with her can hardly  be considered a job. I know that I am a better person because I have Bre in my life and I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to be able to do everything I can do.

Bre has taught me to never take advantage of things like walking or dancing and that no matter what is going on you can always smile. I believe that my charity deserves the award because Breanna’s family is a very humble and sweet family. They work very hard to make sure Bre has as normal of a childhood as possible. Going to extremes to make sure she has the same experiences, her parents are constantly exhausted and never get a break. At thirteen years old, Bre is getting very heavy for her parents to carry. Right now, her bedroom is on the top level of her house which means she must be carried upstairs. For the past few months, she has been sleeping on a bed in the living room because it is very dangerous to carry her up the stairs. Starting in the summer of 2014, the Pelican Foundation began working with her family to raise money to put an additional bedroom on the ground level of her house.

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