I’ve spent the past several weeks trying to figure out how I could ever fully thank you for the generous gift- your anonymous donation of $25,000.
I was sitting on the couch trying to distract myself from a particularly rough day when my phone began to ring. I had no interest in talking to anyone, but when I looked at the caller ID and saw who was calling, I quickly picked up the phone on the last ring. It was Beverly Eye – the precious mother of my best friend who passed away in April of 2017. Betsy was just 22 years old.
After Betsy passed, Beverly came up with an idea to honor her daughter in a way that would benefit others. The moment I heard her idea to raise money to bring another dog to our hospital system, I was determined to see her vision become reality. The therapy dogs played a big role in Betsy’s life as she spent extended amounts of time in the children’s hospital. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to honor her than to strive for another therapy dog in Betsy’s name – “Betsy’s Dog”, as we called it. With a hefty price tag of $25k for a trained therapy dog, we knew our work was cut out for us.
Betsy was known for being the life of the party. The moment she entered a room, it came alive. This girl could transform the most dreadful of places into the most entertaining atmosphere – and she still managed to do it when she was sick, stuck in a hospital bed. When we began our mission to bring Betsy’s dog to Greenville Children’s Hospital, I knew it was perfect. The four-legged heroes have the remarkable ability to lighten the atmosphere and instantly diminish the anxieties of everyone around.
When I answered the phone and heard Bev in tears, my heart skipped a beat. “You’re never going to believe this, Brynn! Someone has come forward and anonymously donated the full amount… They saw your posts… and now we can bring the 4th facility dog… Betsy’s Dog…”, her voice broke. I felt sure that I had misunderstood, so I asked her to repeat what she’d just told me. When she repeated that someone had anonymously donated the $25k we needed, I sprang up from the couch. That phone call changed everything.
I will forever remember the day we finally got to share the news with everyone at the children’s hospital. The big reveal day was a day that none of us will forget. If only everyone could have experienced the emotions in that room… The atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We were all feeding off the energy in the hospital lobby as Betsy’s mother surprised everyone with the announcement that someone had come forward and anonymously donated the full amount of funding needed to bring Betsy’s dog home. It was tougher than I thought it would be to keep my composure long enough to get through my little speech! I struggled to avoid making eye contact with all of those who had come to find out why we were camped out in the hospital lobby in company of cameras from a local news station. The expressions on the faces of those who had gathered ranged from wide eyes and open jaws, to tears. There were a lot of tears! One part of the reveal stands out to me more than others… As Betsy’s mother fought to maintain her composure enough to deliver the exciting news, one of the therapy dogs suddenly went wild. Those who had been in tears, erupted into laughter as the therapy dog started bouncing around with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. That moment was the perfect example of just how much we can benefit from these four-legged heroes! I mouthed, “Betsy..” and later joked that Betsy must’ve been there in spirit harassing the dog to give us all a much needed laugh to lighten the mood. We could agree that it was totally something Betsy would do. In that moment, I felt everything come together. Every person in that room witnessed the dog’s ability to lighten the mood when we didn’t even know to expect it.
Thanks to you, our secret donor, hundreds of patients will benefit from Betsy’s dog. When you generously donated that $25,000 to help out, it gave us all so much hope. I don’t know if I will ever learn your identity, but I did receive your letter. Initially, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept that someone would do something so drastic and kind, expecting nothing in return. It all came full circle when I read your letter and learned one detail about you – You have had your own battle with your health. Your reveal of your struggle with chronic illness and mention of the Spoonie/chronic illness community told me everything I needed to know. A long time ago, I discovered that the most selfless people I’ve encountered are my friends who happen to live with chronic illness. (Betsy was one of them!) I am humbled to hear that you were impacted by our willingness to share about life with invisible illness and it was that which compelled you to give back. It can be difficult to show everyone the reality behind these conditions and just how much they affect us on a day to day basis. However, you have just shown us that being vocal about our circumstances is worth it- it’s crazy to think that a simple social media post was the catalyst responsible for bringing so much good to my community. Thank you for everything! I wish you luck in your own battle and I hope lots of good comes your way. You certainly deserve it.