Tannersville, Monroe County - One boy. One million dollars. A boy from the Poconos is turning his struggle with a rare illness into a mission to help others.
Brayden Walsh of Tannersville wants to end Cystic Fibrosis. It's a disease that's hard for many kids to pronounce so they call it "Sixty-Five Roses." Brayden is using his own take on the "rose" term to try to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Brayden has spent much of his life in hospitals. "One thing I hate about it is you have to wear a dress," he remarked. Clearly, a hospital gown is not the outfit of choice for an eight year old boy. Brayden is used to the gowns though. His parents, Theresa and Neal, told Eyewitness News he has always had medical problems.
He was born premature and spent weeks in Neonatal Intensive Care. His health troubles continued when they brought him home. Theresa said, "[There were] infections constantly, antibiotics constantly. He wasn't gaining weight."
No one could figure out what was wrong. There were dozens of hospital visits and trips to specialists. No one had answers. Theresa remembered, "It was scary. It was depressing."
Eventually a doctor discovered something wrong with Brayden's immune system. His body doesn't make antibodies the way it should. But there is a treatment. Unfortunately, after months of treatment it was clear there were still problems. The family knew something else must be wrong.
Doctors eventually discovered Brayden has Cystic Fibrosis. Theresa collapsed when she heard the news. She remembers thinking, "Oh my gosh, he has a terminal illness, and how long are we gonna have him?"
Cystic Fibrosis (also known as CF) causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. The average life expectancy for someone with the disease is 37 years old. "That won't be him," emphasized Neal.
The father is sure his son will overcome the odds. He believes the boy may even help find a cure or successful treatment for CF. He said, "All this has given me a lot of faith and I'm just a firm believer that if anybody can get through what he goes through, it's him."
Brayden is raising money to help other sick kids. So he is selling a craft. He and his family are making rose pens. The pens are $2 each so he is prepared to make 500,000 of them."I know he can do it," smiled Neal.
When asked why people should buy his pens, Brayden broke out a mischievous smile and chuckled, "Cause I'm cute."
After the cute crafter reaches his goal, he plans to move onto his next project, become a professional Lego builder.
No matter what he becomes, Brayden's parents are happy his attitude has been a rose among the thorns of his health problems. Neal said, "I'm very proud of him, very proud to say that he is my son."
You can buy rose pens by contacting the Walsh's on Brayden's Million Dollar Mission Facebook page.
They will also be selling pens, along with pins, candy, and other items at Kinsley's ShopRite in Brodheadsville.
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