Seven-year-old's fundraiser makes $50,000 for his friend
The fundraising goal of $20,000 was eclipsed before the boys' lemonade stand even opened for business.
The story of Maple Ridge seven-year-olds Brayden and Quinn – one needing life-changing surgery in the U.S., and the other wanting to help his best friend – touched the hearts of a lot of people.
Brayden Grozdanich has cerebral palsy. His muscles are stiff and spastic on one side, he walks with the help of a leg brace, and he gets regular speech therapy. He's shy, but he's sharp.
Quinn Collander has been his friend through kindergarten and Grade 1 at Hammond Elementary. Quinn's parents are Scouting leaders, and the boys are in Beavers together. They also go on camp trips, play some video games of course, and swim in the pool Brayden's grandfather owns.
After a swim, Brayden's muscles become pulled taught, and he needs physiotherapy.
Watching his friend getting physio had an impact on Quinn.
"Brayden was upset, and had some tears, and Quinn was really affected by that," recalled his mom, Heather Roney who heard about it from Quinn, and agreed to help him with the fundraiser.
The family built a lemonade stand, secured some space at the entrance to the Real Canadian Superstore, and put the word out through social media.
It took off.
"I asked my mom if we could to a lemonade stand to raise money," explained Quinn at Sunday's event. "I want to be able to play more games with him (Brayden)."
He was surprised and excited by the attention his lemonade stand garnered. Customers flocked in. A tearful woman pressed a donation into an organizer's hand. The media arrived, and television news teams from the big Vancouver channels were there filming. Then four fire trucks pulled up, as firefighters gave support to one of their own – Brayden's father Travis is an on-call firefighter.
"It's great!" said Quinn, looking around. "This is a big success, right?"
Roney put a donation website up at youcaring.com, under the heading "My Buddy Brayden."
It had collected $23,000 already by Sunday morning.
An elderly man came to the stand with a $5 donation.
"You're a fine young man," he said to Quinn. "You're doing a good job."
On Monday, after the lemonade stand, their fundraising total stood at $52,000.
A good job indeed.
The largest single donation was $2,000 by a Vancouver family. A touching donation came from a man who is a quadriplegic, bound to a wheelchair for 26 years, who gave $500.
"It's really overwhelming," said Toni, Brayden's mother. "But it's amazing. There are no words to describe what everyone has done."
Travis explained that there is a surgical procedure for Brayden offered in Canada, and it would be covered under the Medical Services Plan (MSP). But it is more invasive, could require bone breaks, and has a long recovering time.
"I don't want to see my kid getting hurt, or having a long recovery," said Travis.
Spending $20,000 for what they consider the best techniques is well worthwhile. That amount includes the flights and accommodations, as well as the procedure, which is generally under an hour.
There are two doctors in the U.S. who offer a less invasive procedure, known by the acronym SPML, which uses very small incisions that are only two or three millimetres in length, and they scrape his muscles and tendons where they are tight.
The Grozdanich family communicated with the family of a nine-year-old girl who had the procedure done a month ago. She used to walk with two forearm crutches, but now she can walk on her own. For her, the pain was minimal.
"We're hoping that he'll be able to walk better, not fall down as much, and have better motor skills," said Travis.
He said his son doesn't let the cerebral palsy hold him back. He can type okay, for his age, and he's a ball player on the Ridge Meadows Pirates.
"He tries everything, and he works hard at physio," said his father. "But he could end up in a wheelchair if we don't do physiotherapy."
Travis said he was "blown away" by the fundraiser, and the support for it.
"It's pretty overwhelming, for Quinn to want to do that for his friend."
Brayden, his mother and grandmother will fly to New Jersey for surgery on Aug. 7. Whatever concerns they have, money will not be one of them.