7-year-old leukemia patient donates $1,800 to University of Maryland Children's Hospital

Glen Burnie student, whose disease is in remission, gives back to hospital with fundraiser

May 31, 2011|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Brasen VonMoose-Lemin stared at the money spread over the family dining room table and knew immediately that he had outdone himself.

The 7-year-old from Glen Burnie had raised the money with his family to donate to the University of Maryland Children's Hospital for treating his leukemia. After an April 30 fundraiser that included a lemonade stand, brownie sales and raffles, family members knew they had done well.

But $1,800?

"That was the most money I had ever seen!" said Brasen, a student at George Cromwell Elementary School who has pledged to continue to do fundraisers for the hospital, which has helped to put his leukemia in remission.

"I want to find a cure for cancer," said Brasen, an avid Lego systems builder and Orioles fan.

Brasen's efforts have made him the talk among Children's Hospital staff and an inspiration in the Glen Burnie community.

Amy Jarboe Lamb, associate director for the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation, said that Brasen's donation will provide toys for the Child Life team, which helps youngsters adjust to and cope emotionally with their time in the hospital.

Last week, state Sen. Ed DeGrange presented him with a Senate citation before his homeroom class.

"It takes a special young man to get this project going and want to help others," said DeGrange. "Everyone in the state is very proud of you."

Brasen was diagnosed in September 2008, after his parents called the doctor when they spotted bruising from the waistband of his underwear. Blood work and blood marrow testing revealed that the boy had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the white blood cells, which fight infections.

Unable to go to school because of his hospitalization and low-blood counts, Brasen was placed in the Anne Arundel County public schools' home/hospital teaching program, a short-term instructional service. Brasen returned to public school last year.

Teresa York, pediatric oncologist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, credited Brasen for courageously battling his disease.

"Brasen has always been a very bright and mature young man, and I am not surprised that he thought of doing something as wonderful and caring. … I was very surprised with how much people donated so that he could give this to us," she said.

For the fundraiser, Brasen's family handed out fliers throughout the community, and his older brother, Kaleb, petitioned help from local store managers. The Lemins originally planned to have the event at their home, but as word spread they decided to hold it on Cromwell grounds.

Brasen's father, Donald Lemin, said that local merchants donated food and gift cards, the latter of which were used in nearly a dozen raffles. The fundraiser included face painting, glitter tattoos, balloon characters and even stilt walkers. The event was held shortly after the family returned from Walt Disney World as part of a Make-A-Wish-Foundation trip.

"It was April 30th when we had it, but by April 29th, because of talking to people and with people giving donations, we already had $400," said Donald.

It took an hour to count the money, said Brasen's mother, Cherie VonMoose-Lemin.

York says that leukemia affects almost 2,000 children per year but added that "today we can cure up to 85 percent of our patients. Thanks to people and families like Brasen, we can continue to strive for better treatments until we can cure 100 percent of our patients."

Cherie says that Brasen receives daily oral chemotherapy, intravenous chemo once a month and spinal chemo every three months. "He had to learn to swallow pills at 4 years old and does a great job," Cherie said.

"He is doing a wonderful thing giving back to others," said Cherie. "That is something I think all parents need to teach their children these days is to give of themselves and not always expect to receive."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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