RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Kids sometimes don’t realize the incredible impact they can make...
Just like any other one-year-old, Sloan loves to babble, be outside and play with her toys... but Sloan isn’t exactly like every other kid.
She was born with a limb difference, a disability her parents weren’t aware of until she was born. You can imagine the initial pain they felt, and family members wanted to help.
“I immediately jumped into big sister mode," says Carly Hellums, Sloan’s aunt.
In her efforts to help her family cope, Carly came across the organization A Doll Like Me, a nonprofit dedicated to customizing look-alike dolls for children no matter their medical condition. As a surprise, she ordered one of the special dolls for her niece just a few weeks after she was born.
“It did look exactly like her," says Carly. "Their arms end right below the elbow. Same hair color, same skin tone. They look just alike.”
A year later, for Sloan’s first birthday, Carly’s sons, Bronner and Brody, also wanted to do something special for their baby cousin.
“I wanted to buy a doll in honor of Sloan’s first birthday for someone who couldn’t afford a doll, but the boys decided they wanted to do a fundraiser instead," says Carly.
They started making and selling bracelets to raise money for A Doll Like Me. They set a goal of $300, and to raise awareness, Mom Carly posted their mission on Facebook.
To make it even more of a challenge, Bronner had committed to taking a pie to the face if the goal was met, something he had to do the very next day.
“We hit that goal over a night," says Bronner.
The boys kept setting goals and got more and more people to commit to getting “pie’d." Teachers, coaches, school lunch ladies… Even people from around the country and world started to participate. Now, in a matter of weeks, Bronner and Brody have raised $3,400 – enough to pay for 34 dolls for kids everywhere.
“It’s just big. It’s huge," says Carly. "Kids don’t realize what a powerful impact they can make. But, my kids, I underestimated them. I thought $300 was too big, and they didn’t. So, I’m just so proud of them.”
Knowing that 34 more families will have a doll in honor of Sloan makes Bronner and Brody’s aunt very proud of them too.
“That part means a lot," says Lauren Hellums, Sloan’s mother. "I feel like there’s other parents that, they’re going to have the surprise. And then that surprise can help them with the first initial hurt. Because, we all dream for our kids to have the most normal life. But, this is our normal. And it’s a good normal. And I’m thankful for this normal.”
To buy a bracelet, you can contact Carly on Facebook. You can also donate directly to the GoFundMe page for A Doll Like Me here.