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An answer for Prayer

August 19, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

GREENCASTLE, PA.

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

A Greencastle teen has started a fundraiser to help a little girl he has never met.

Brandon Trefelner, 13, came up with the idea of selling wristbands because he wears a similar one on his own wrist.

The wristbands, which are being sold for $3 each, will raise money for Prayer Wenger, an 18-month-old girl who suffered brain damage after a near-fatal accident in her Waynesboro, Pa., backyard pool last month.

Although Prayer is listed in good condition at Penn State Children's Hospital, her mother, Lisa Wenger, said she was "technically brain-dead." Prayer's doctor, Dr. Jeanette Raymer, director of pediatric rehabilitation, said Prayer suffered a severe brain injury in the accident.

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Prayer will need extensive care after she leaves the hospital, Raymer said Thursday.

"Things are going to be different for the rest of our lives now," Lisa Wenger said. "Prayer will never be a little girl who can walk into a classroom or smile and give us a hug, but we're grateful to have her."

Last week, Brandon dropped off 700 purple wristbands to local businesses and has hopes of raising enough money to buy the Wenger family a van with a wheelchair lift and help pay for a full-time nurse.

Brandon said he was inspired by the yellow band he wears on his own wrist - a silicone "Livestrong" band from seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong's cancer research campaign.

"It was such a tragedy," Brandon said. "I felt I should think of ways I could help the family."

Lisa Wenger said she was outside hanging laundry on July 18 when Prayer wandered out of the house. Wenger said she's not sure how her toddler was able to climb the ladder to the pool, but said she discovered Prayer face down in the water.

"When I pulled her out, her eyes were open, her face was blue," Wenger said. "She wasn't breathing. She was technically dead."

Members of the Mont Alto ambulance squad had to restart Prayer's heart before taking her to Waynesboro Hospital, Wenger said. She was flown to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center around 11 a.m., emergency officials said.

Lisa Sibbio, Brandon's mother, said she heard about what happened from a friend, and found out her daughter, Alexis, 7, was in the same kindergarten class as Prayer's 6-year-old sister, Faith.

"I told (my children) to pray for Prayer," Sibbio said. "The next day, Brandon came running down the stairs and he said, 'Mom, I have this awesome idea. We should get these wristbands made up.'"

He called the campaign "A Prayer for Prayer."

"I was amazed," Sibbio said. "How awesome is that?"

Once she and Brandon found a supplier for the wristbands, Sibbio convinced her employer, Eric Rosenthal of Hagerstown, to get local businesses to cover the cost, which was around $1,100.

"If (the idea) came from an adult, it would have been a really good idea," said Rosenthal, owner of Reliable Home Furnishings in Hagerstown. "But here's a 13-year-old boy who came up with this great idea, and he gave me inspiration to get involved."

Rosenthal's store became the rallying point for the fundraising efforts. He said they hope to make at least $2,100. All of the profits would go back to Prayer's family, Brandon said.

"When a tragedy happens, a lot times of people say, 'What can I do?' and up until his idea, it was just pray for Prayer, which is the best thing anyone can do," Rosenthal said. "But when he came up with this idea, it was like, wow, we actually have something we can work on together."

Brandon, a self-proclaimed "sports fanatic," attends Greencastle-Antrim Middle School. The soon-to-be eighth-grader plays four sports. When asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, Brandon said, "A professional athlete in any sport I can get into."

He said he hoped the fundraiser would get as big as the Livestrong campaign.

"When you have support, then you can have the strength to move on," Brandon said.

The Wenger family said they were grateful for Brandon's generosity and said community support is what has carried them through.

"It's amazing," Lisa Wenger said. "We've gone through so many ups and downs with Prayer, and there always seems to be somebody who shows up when times get bad. It's quite a miracle to us."




Where to get wristbands


The following businesses are selling wristbands to benefit Prayer Wenger, an 18-month-old girl who suffered brain damage after a near-fatal accident in her Waynesboro, Pa., backyard pool last month.

Hagerstown

  • Hamilton Nissan, 1929 Dual Highway, 301-733-7222

  • Sharrett Volkswagen, 1333 Dual Highway, 301-739-7700

  • Younger Toyota, 1935 Dual Highway, 301-733-2302


Greencastle, Pa.

  • Country Shadows Crafts and Gifts, 1394 Buchanan Trail West, 717-597-0836

  • n Mikie's Ice Cream Greencow Giftshop, 179 S. Antrim Way, 717-597-4011


Waynesboro, Pa.

  • Rainbow Gymnastics, 71 W. Main St., 717-762-0448


For more information, call Lisa Sibbio at 717-404-1217.

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