While many children were thinking about how many gifts they would have under the tree this Christmas, 7-year-old Bralie Miller wondered how she could give to the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“I thought it was sad because they might not have stuff like we have,” Bralie said. “Some kids are having a hard time moving and just having a hard time functioning. Some kids don’t know what to do, so, like, I thought it would be nice for kids to have toys. “They might not have new toys. They may just have a sock puppet to play with.” Her selfless desire resulted in more than $1,000 being raised for the hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
In November, Bralie shared with her mother the idea to give toys to patients at St. Jude’s after seeing a commercial about the hospital that left a lasting impression. “Some kids don’t think about other kids, but what made me think about them is this commercial,” Bralie said. “It inspired me. “It said ‘If you’re a kid, you don’t have to be a grownup to do stuff.’ It said ‘Joy can just be a small gift — a toy.’ Joy can be anything and as long as you believe in joy it’ll come to you and others.’”
After watching the commercial, Bralie rushed to her mother, while she was cooking, to set her plan in motion. “She told me ‘Momma, I got to do something,’” Kathryn Miller said. “She said ‘I’m gonna have plenty of Christmas because my family makes sure I do, but these children might not have like I have and I need to make sure they have a Christmas like me.’”
Bralie’s original plan was to deliver gifts or money directly to one of the hospitals, but learned she was too young to visit the hospital. “You have to be 12,” Kathryn said. What Bralie was allowed to do was sponsor her own St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraiser. The hospital suggested a goal of $300, but Bralie wanted to go bigger. “St. Jude set a goal of $300 and she said ‘No momma. I want to raise $1,000,’” Kathryn said.
Katheryn started a Facebook fundraiser titled “Bralie Giving from the Heart,” and mother and daughter hit the ground running, getting the word out at church and through family members. “I asked many, many people, and I raised a lot of money,” Bralie said.
Bralie ended up raising $1,090, and the earnings were sent to St. Jude this past week. “It makes me proud to know that I am raising her the right way, that she sees the things that I do and she’s learning from that,” Kathryn said.
This year’s fundraiser was not Bralie’s first time giving to St. Jude. While a student at Shining Stars Academy, she raised a combined $700 participating in two St. Jude trike-a-thons. “I’m a 18-years cancer survivor, so St. Jude’s is very dear to our hearts,” Kathryn said.
Bralie said children need gifts but what is most important this time of year is family. “Some kids can’t get together with their family,” she said. “They’re either stuck in a hospital or having hard trouble.” More giving is to come from the 7-year-old. She has plans for Easter, Halloween and next Christmas. “When I get grown-up, I want to go to that St. Jude place and say ‘hey’ to all the kids and buy a few bags of candy and then hand it out,” she said. Bralie encourages others to donate to St. Jude. “If you still want to raise money, you can do card or cash,” she said.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was made part of the system of National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers in 2008. Members of the network are recognized for their scientific leadership in laboratory and clinical research, and for serving their communities and the broader public by integrating training and education for biomedical researchers and health-care professionals.
St. Jude’s mission is to “advance cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.”