This remarkable story of how a ten-year-old girl, whose cousin has Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (JPA) , raised funds for pediatric brain tumor research. It is an inspiring story from someone so young.
“I love my cousin and I hated her JPA”
Danielle, age 10, has a cousin who has a brain tumor. Danielle understands that a tumor is like a walnut growing inside her four-year-old cousin’s brain, and that surgeons could only get 75% out. She understands that the 25% that was left is not good because it was still growing and crowding out other important parts of the brain that her cousin needs.
Danielle also knows that her cousin, Samantha, has to go every week and have medicine (chemotherapy) put in her body through a port in her chest, and she knows Samantha cannot go to school every day or come over to play because she is too tired. Danielle hates when I’m not allowed to visit Samantha just because I have a runny nose; she accepts but doesn’t fully understand why her treatments have made her blood too weak to fight other people’s germs. Even at age 10, Danielle seems to sense danger for the little cousin she adores. “I want to do something to help her,” she says, “but I don’t know what to do. After all,” she relates, “I’m just a kid. I don’t even drive.”
But Danielle is one young girl who does not give up easily. So she kept asking questions. “My mom said research is our best hope; we need doctors to discover new treatments and cures. So why don’t they do that?” Danielle asked. “Not enough money for research,” her mom explained.
“I told my friends, and they wanted to help. My friends cared.”
So, Danielle became determined to get the money to help her cousin. She started by asking her friends to save money to pay for doctors to find a cure for brain tumors, and little envelopes appeared in her school cubby with dollar bills. My friends cared, she beamed. But it didn’t seem like enough. “What else?” she wondered. In her religious school, her teacher talked about gifts of kindness. Something good that I do for someone else, that I figure out for myself, was Danielle’s conclusion. “But what?” was the question that nagged her.
One day, on the way home from school, she saw a sign for a neighbor’s garage sale and she ran home excited. I want to have my own garage sale, but instead of keeping the money for me, I want everything to go to doctors to figure out how to make Samantha’s brain tumor disappear. And so the idea for the “Everything Sale” for children’s brain tumors (for research grants to find a cure for JPA) was born. And Danielle took it on with a passion that was all her own.
“I wanted my daughter to feel safe, but also to understand that her cousin’s illness was serious and we needed more scientists to help. We organized a small fundraiser with other families. My child got back far more than she gave, because she knew she was doing it for her cousin.”
– Mom, California
I began by hunting for things in my basement which we weren’t using . I found old toys, books, games, household stuff and clothes. But she wanted more. And independent Danielle, normally unwilling to ask adults for help went to her neighbors and gave them my poster asking for things they didn’t use anymore, explaining that my cousin has a brain tumor that won’t go away, and asking them to come to the sale. And, after she got home from a full day at school, I cleaned some toys, washed some clothes, and put tags on all the stuff and put everything into big plastic bags. Every night she went to bed a little more tired, wondering whether anybody would buy things and if her plan would succeed.
Finally the day of the sale arrived. It took 5 trips for my mom and dad and brother to get all the stuff out of the garage and over to the Town City Hall where they are having a big Second Hand Sale day. Three of her friends came to meet her and help her negotiate with buyers. When buyers were interested, she reported, we told them that all the money was going to find a cure for my cousin’s brain tumor, and they didn’t bargain us. But some people did anyway, and we just wanted to sell, so we let them decide, Danielle related.
“They giggled as the sales mounted, and when we counted up, we had $548,” she reported beaming. “I felt like we did something special for my cousin and for other kids with brain tumors. Doing good made me feel good. It was tons of FUN!!!!” she related excitedly.
Danielle now reports that she is still not certain that $548 will be enough money to find a cure for her cousin’s brain tumor. But she believes in the miracles and I’m hoping other kids will too.