Pyramid Fundraiser To Help A Little Girl Get A New Heart

I can’t say I am close to this family; but their ordeal could’ve been mine, or yours.  Brianna, age seven, needs a heart transplant as was she diagnosed with a rare condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy.  There is nothing anyone could’ve done to prevent this … it’s a sort of natural “luck.”

I grew up in Brazil, and saw a lot of poverty while I lived in abundance so thoughts about natural luck were common.  I could’ve been born to a different family with a different color of skin; been a millionaire or lived under the poverty line; born without vision or with an extra finger.   I didn’t decide who I was going to be born as, or do anything to deserve the abundantly healthy and happy life I now lead.  Today my problems are “first world problems”, and sometimes I forget I am not entitled to them.  Thoughts of Brianna keep me grateful, and here is a one minute video that puts first world problems in perspective (you don’t have to watch to understand this post).

I found out about Brianna’s condition the day I got back from IronMan Florida.  I was in the bubble of gratitude, endorphins, and exhaustion when I dropped the boys off at school, and was talking to a mom about the race. Another mom stopped to ask something about Brianna. I didn’t know what she was talking about so they filled me in.

Brianna with mom and dad

Brianna with mom and dad

Brianna Medina is a second grader, and she was in Dreamer’s class last year.  Luke, her little brother was with Fearless.  Turns out that in the five days I had been gone, Brianna had been diagnosed with this rare heart condition and was immediately taken to Shands Heart Clinic at the University of Florida in Gainseville and was waiting for a heart transplant.

Say what? I just saw her at school with her cute glasses and long hair.  I just saw her Mom, Maria, with her dimples caused by the permanent smile she wore, I just talked to dad Brian about buying a bicycle. What do you mean she is in the hospital and needs a heart transplant?

This was all very sudden and surprising.  The only symptom mom noticed was that Brianna would get out of breath when doing physical activity.  She checked with the pediatrician who ruled out a few possibilities and said just to keep an eye out to see if it improved.  It didn’t, and an initial x-ray showed Brianna’s enlarged heart.  This one will not support her as she grows; without a transplant Brianna’s organs would slowly begin to suffer too.

Since then this family’s life has been turned upside down.  Because the transplant would be done at Shands they need to be within a short driving distance from the hospital and  Miami is too far away.  They had to move.  Luke and Brianna transferred out of our school; Maria has not been able to work since Brianna was diagnosed, and Brian was able to transfer his current job so that the family could stay together during this difficult time.

As she waits for a new heart, Brianna tries to maintain as normal life as she can even if she is monitored by the medical team at Shands both remotely and through weekly full day visits.   However just the other day while Brianna was at school, Maria got a call from the hospital that Brianna was showing greater abnormalities.  She was rushed to the hospital and had surgery the following day to install a pacemaker and a defibrillator.  It’s this constant fear that Brianna’s heart will fail that the Medina’s deal with every day.  The transplant is essential, but so will the lifelong medical care. It will be a long road of challenges, triumphs, and expenses.

Brianna after the pacemaker and defibrillator surgery

Brianna after the pacemaker and defibrillator surgery

Family friends began a donation page to help cover the estimated $60,000 of the transplant alone.  Yet there will be lifelong expenses, and their network of friends will only get the Medina’s so far.

For example, I donated to their campaign through our school, but there is only so much the school families can contribute.  But what if someone like me who is connected to the Medina’s through school but otherwise have a completely different set of friends bring her cause to my circle.  And others do the same, then we act as a pyramid to help this little girl.  No one needs to contribute huge sums or do lots of fundraising.  We create a little army of helpers. In this case, of running helpers.


Luke accompanied Brianna to her weekly check-up. He has been a trooper.

This is the deal:

I pledge to run the upcoming Miami Marathon in honor of Brianna, and I will ask for donations from my friends to total $100.  However, I will also get two additional friends who pledge to run in honor of Brianna and they each commit to raise $100 and get two additional people to fundraise.  Soon, we will be a larger number of people committing to small amounts to reach this campaign’s goal of $10,000.

Of course, you don’t have to be in Miami to do this.  We welcome support from anywhere in the country or heck, in the world!

So what do you say? You don’t have to run a marathon, or a half, or even a 5k race.  You just need to commit to a distance, and get your friends to sponsor one mile, or two or a million.  If you are not a runner, commit to do a walk … anything that you can have people support you through a small contribution.

To make this happen, you need to go to the FUNDLY CAMPAIGN: RUNNING FOR A HEART

Here you make your contribution, and I mean it when I say any amount counts.  Even $5 is humbly accepted.  If you want to then become a fundraiser you click on this button

Fundly, Running for a heart page

Select an amount to fundraise and in less than three minutes you will have your very own page that you can then share with your friends and family to raise your funds.

It’s a pretty simple process but if you get stuck, you can always shoot me an email at  and I can help.

The funds we collect here will be deposited with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national charity based in Bloomington, Indiana and dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-needy patients.  COTA’s services are completely free of charge and 100% of funds generated by COTA community fundraising campaigns are available for transplant-related expenses.

If you don’t want to contribute and already support many causes we totally understand.  If you could share the Fundly page or this post through your networks that would be greatly appreciated.

You can also keep updated with Brianna’s progress through her Facebook Page

We cannot prevent a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy. It’s life, and this could be your child or your family.  We can’t donate to every worthy cause, or do something about every illness, but we can help with some of them and I am hoping you will help this family.  As a mom, I would take back all my first world problems to not be going through what Maria is.  Will you help? Wouldn’t you like to know that if life threw lemons at you a whole group of strangers got together to turn them into lemonade?

4 thoughts on “Pyramid Fundraiser To Help A Little Girl Get A New Heart

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