She didn’t have to look far.
Opportunity came in the smiling face of her best friend — young Haley Brooks, another 11-year-old, LFMS sixth-grader who she had known since kindergarten. Years ago, Haley was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Diamond-Blackfan anemia that prevented her body from producing red blood cells. Subsequently, Haley had to receive a blood transfusion every other week.
Since age 4 1/2, the little girl’s disease had been in remission; however, it has returned and this time with a vengeance.
“It’s been worse than when she was little,” Lisa Brooks, the little girl’s mom, told Cleveland Daily Banner staff writer Joyanna Weber for articles in our Monday and Tuesday editions. The disease is so rare only 20 to 30 cases are diagnosed each year.
The health scare is compounded further because Haley has a rare blood type — A negative.
Recognizing the difference she could make in her friend’s life, young Violet — with the help of her parents Robert and Laverne Lee — began planning in January the Haley Brooks Benefit.
To be held Friday at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, the event will include a daytime blood and platelet drive through Blood Assurance, and also a bone marrow screening. The drive and screening will kick off at the church from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and then again from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
An entertainment portion of the benefit will take place in the afternoon and evening, from 1 to 9 p.m. The live music is being provided free of charge; however, donations to be used toward medical expenses faced by the Brooks family will be accepted. Funds also will be raised through a quilt raffle.
The scheduled entertainment is a delight. Of heartwarming appeal is that many musicians and entertainers contacted the families to volunteer their talents upon hearing of the benefit.
A few of the exciting acts include three costume clubs of “Star Wars” enthusiasts, and the collage of singers and musicians includes Hope Rising, God’s Way, Connie Wright, Mallory Ledford and Destiny Crittenden. Actor Robert Coles also will be on site for a book signing.
Even the featured youngsters — Violet and Haley — will be taking the stage.
In an interview with our newspaper, Violet talked of her decision to pull together the benefit for her good friend.
“Since the April 27 tornadoes, there have been a lot of people [who] have helped us through it, and it just made me want to help other people, too,” Violet explained. “And since Haley has this rare blood disease, I wanted to help her so that she could get better.”
On the surface, Violet’s reasoning seems far beyond the capacity for one so young. Yet, this tiny visionary recognized the need and has reached out to help. The aid her own family has received from loving hearts and willing hands in the aftermath of last year’s devastating storms has certainly served as inspiration to this innocent angel of mercy.
We applaud Robert and Laverne Lee for supporting their daughter’s dream of helping others. We admire the love of Danny and Lisa Brooks in caring for their own little girl and inspiring her through values like hope and faith.
We agree with the Lees. One day a bone marrow donor will be found for Haley Brooks and her disease will be conquered.
Until such time, the purity of unconditional love will shine like a beacon in the night. And the friendship of two little girls will bridge any abyss, no matter how deep.
We urge area residents to visit the Haley Brooks Benefit on Friday.
We encourage all to offer a beautiful little girl the precious gift of life.