Family, friends and interested community members showed up Saturday afternoon at the farm of Danny and Karen Wooden for a cornhole tournament to raise money for Brittny’s Blankets.
The Kentucky-based organization gives blankets to children with life-threatening illnesses. According to Steve and Dannette Williams, approximately 726 blankets have been delivered since December 2008. About 98 percent of the blankets have gone to children across seven states: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Alabama.
Those attending the fundraiser could be seen laughing and mingling as they donated to the cause.
However, no one could forget why they were present for the event.
A large banner with a picture of Brittny Williams hung over the refreshments.
“She was a fighter,” Dannette recalled of her daughter who passed away from a brain tumor on Aug. 30, 2008. “As a matter of fact, today I have just been talking to her, ‘Brittny, just give me your strength so I don’t break down a million times.’ She was the strongest person I have ever met in my life. She loved life.”
Brittny was diagnosed with leukemia at just 2 years of age. She relapsed at 3. She lived the life of a normal child with her parents and brother, Brandon, for eight years.
“She started showing signs of a brain tumor,” Dannette recalled. “When she was diagnosed, we knew. They gave her six months. She lived 17.”
The young, bright-eyed girl with a love for life underwent many treatments in the latter part of her life.
These often make recipients cold. It was a familiar sensation for Brittny.
“Mommy,” Brittny would say to Dannette, “Let’s go home, put on our jammies, get in your bed and get warm and cozy.”
A family friend gave Brittny a blanket when she heard about the brain tumor.
“She always carried around that one blanket she was given when she was going through treatment,” Dannette said. “It had a little girl looking into a pond and behind her was an angel. It was her favorite one.”
Brittny’s Blankets, a nonprofit, was established in December 2008, just three months after the young fighter passed away. More than 900 people showed up to Brittny’s memorial. Dannette and Steve felt the nonprofit would be the perfect way to honor their daughter while ensuring she was not forgotten.
The blankets are purchased as kits in Lexington, Ky. Groups comprised of sport teams, sororities, fraternities, church groups and classes sign up to tie the blankets together. These are then embroidered by Dannette with the words “Stay Warm and Cozy.” Most blankets are then delivered to a children’s hospital.
Family, friends and those touched by the sentiment behind the blankets have banded behind the nonprofit.
Brittny’s Blankets reflects its namesake’s attitude in life, remembering her daughter’s sympathy toward other patients.
“She never felt sorry for herself,” Dannette recalled. “She always said, “Why does this have to happen? Why is he so sick?’ And I would be like, ‘OK, but why you?’ And she would say, ‘But why them?’ That is the way she looked at it. They shouldn’t have to go through this. That was Brittny.”
Steve and Dannette said Brandon shares his sister’s tenacious spirit.
“He has been amazing,” Dannette said. “He is so strong and he just never stops wanting to do something. He could have given up on life after leaving his baby sister, but he just keeps getting stronger.”
The Cleveland native and graduate of Bradley Central High School said her goal is to eventually deliver 200 blankets to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, because “They never give up.”
More information can be found by visiting the nonprofit’s website, www.brittnysblankets.org.