Money began to trickle into the account and a month after introducing the project, the account was overflowing beyond the goal.
The news spread quickly. Soon the whole community was involved except one family. They continued with life, oblivious to the daily updated website that revealed the donation funds that would forever change their little girl’s life. Our community’s largest Christmas secret was hushed but excited donors wrote cheques and made deposits despite the tough financial year.
I will never forget the email describing the “fundraiser that never was” for a six-year-old girl who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just 10 months old. She takes approximately 15 pills a day to ensure her body receives the nutrients it requires and her loving parents dedicate an hour a day to rub her back to loosen the mucus that would clog her lungs.
She lives a normal life but her doctors suggested that it was time for her to wear a vest to assist with therapy. Worn a couple of times a day, the vest would take the place of her parents’ rigorous hand therapy. It would take less time than manual therapy and it could be worn at school and other places.
Her parents were looking forward to joining a group of friends and family in the new year to plan a fundraising event. However, the committee had a different idea. Initially, they dreamed of surprising the family with a cheque for the full amount of the vest at their first fundraising meeting. The motor for the vest was priced at $20,000. Individuals and businesses were encouraged to make this dream a reality by making a donation to the “Vest Fund” at the local credit union.
Money began to trickle into the account and a month after introducing the project, the account was overflowing beyond the goal. Plans were altered to inform the family of this huge secret two weeks before Christmas. Those who contributed to the fund were invited to participate by carolling at a specific home where the family had been invited for the evening.
By 7:50 p. m., a large group of carollers filled the front yard and began to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The hosts pulled back their living room curtains and invited their guests to enjoy the sight. It was then that they noticed other family members and friends and the group held up a large sign. What a surprise! Not only was the vest paid for in full but there were additional funds for future expenses. The family was overwhelmed by the love and generosity shown to them.
This was one fundraiser that didn’t need any big-name entertainer. Only a single Christmas carol. Neither did it need a large venue to hold all who came. Only the starlit sky. And the benefit for those who came? The heart of one special little girl whose life they changed forever.
– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba