September 15, 2008

Girl Scout Helps Comfort Patients


If you measured Girl Scout Shannon Bradley's age in Girl Scout cookies rather than years, the answer would be 3,500 boxes.

That's a lot of cookies in the nine years the 13-year-old Southside resident has been a Girl Scout.

But Scouting is about more than selling cookies. Completing projects and activities that help in the community are as synonymous with Girl Scouting as its annual cookie sale. Bradley's Girl Scout uniform includes a sash with 17 merit badges. She wears a bracelet with five charms that signify achievement and has a badge-filled cadet vest as well.

Bradley, an eighth-grader at Twin Lakes Academy, is working toward her Silver Award, but believes her effort to help pediatric heart patients at Wolfson Children's Hospital is what really matters.

Her Troop 293 leader, Michelle Myrick, knew Jose Ettedgui, director of pediatric cardiology at Wolfson. Myrick told troop members about some of Ettedgui's patients, especially about how frightened they got when it was time for an operation.

"I thought it would be a good idea to give these children a blanket or pillow that might comfort them," Bradley said.

She developed a budget, determining she should make 320 fleece blankets and 320 heart-shaped pillows and that she would need $1,200 for materials (thread, fleece, polyfil and sharpies).

"I will have enough pillows and blankets for Dr. Ettedgui's patients for an entire year," Bradley said.

Ettedgui praised Bradley's initiative.

"This is truly a fascinating project that she is taking on and is a tribute to her personal drive and commitment to helping others and her Girl Scout troop," he said.

Bradley raised the money by baby-sitting, pet-sitting, bagging for tips at her nearby grocery store and asking for donations. She purchased the materials and made colorful blankets (each a 30-by-30 square with various designs from Dalmatians and fire hydrants to hearts, dragons, polka dots and paw prints) and heart-shaped pillows that include an attached Sharpie for autographs of visitors and medical personnel.

"Each blanket and pillow takes two minutes to sew," she said, adding that her goal was to complete 20 pillows each night and to also work on the blankets during her spare time during the day.

"Bradley embodies what Girl Scouting is all about and everything the experience is intended to give to girls," said Myrick.

Alex Gornik, Girls Scouts of Gateway Council public relations specialist, agreed with Myrick.

"She is a role model who exhibits all the characteristics Girl Scouts should have."

Bradley's next project (to attain her Gold Award) may involve something different.

"I hope someone else will choose to make blankets and pillows for children who need surgery," said Bradley. "There will always be children who need to feel loved."

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