When principal Tamra Thompson asked her students at Brandenburg Intermediate School to write Christmas wish letters, she never anticipated the depth she would find in the requests from her students. Among the wishes for cell phones and video game systems was a letter asking for much more.
“I told my assistant principals, you have to stop reading and listen to this.” Ms. Thompson said.
Eleven-year-old Ivan Hernandez poured out his heart in his letter asking for his classmates to raise money for a cure for his sister’s neurological disease, Rett Syndrome.
“I just kind of feel bad because other people can enjoy the good things in life like being able to run, jump, speak,” Ivan said. “She can’t do any of those things that normal people can do.”
Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder that leads to severe impairments affecting primarily girls. It can impact nearly every aspect of their lives including their ability to speak, walk, and eat.
Ivan’s sister Yadieliz is 14, and she is wheelchair-bound and dependent on her mother for everything.
“I just feel like if we can find a cure she can get better and be able to do normal things other people can do,” Ivan said.
Ms. Thompson and her staff were moved to tears by Ivan’s compassion for his sister.
“It was such a selfless act for his sister,” Ms. Thompson said. “We just don’t get to see that from kids all the time. He didn’t ask for one thing for himself.”
The school launched a fundraiser in conjunction with the 100th day of school – encouraging students to bring 100 pennies or whatever else they could to donate for Rett Syndrome research. So far, they have collected $350.
Ivan’s mother, Alba Lopez, became emotional talking about her son’s wish and his school community’s willingness to grant it.
“My heart exploded,” Ms. Lopez said. “I was so proud of him that he wants that for his sister.”
If you’d like more information on Rett Syndrome or to donate for a cure, click here.