Trisomy Awareness Campaign
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The AaronStrong Foundation celebrates $75, 000 in donations!
In January of 2016 when David Bultema registered AaronStrong Foundation as a 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization, his dream was to encourage people struggling through adversity. He had trudged through the valley of death and disappointment, exemplifying what it means to find hope on the other side.
Because fundraising came naturally to him, the vision was to raise funds to give to specific non-profits already in place, such as Trisomy 18 Foundation and Central Florida hospitals. Because of his story, those were close to his heart. (Click HERE for David's Story).
What he didn’t know was that in just three years, the foundation would celebrate $75,000 in donations to not only non-profit organizations, thus fulfilling his dream, but local families suffering adversity. His story of pushing through extreme adversity would impact his community of Central Florida in such a personal way.
He couldn’t have dreamed of being surrounded by “AaronStrong believers”- those who focus more on the comeback than the setback, and a loyal community that stands behind their neighbors during times of trial.
This month, we are humbly celebrating the following remarkable ways we were able to connect with our community over the past three years with a total of $75,000 in donations.
Perseverance Scholarships for Students
Over $6000 in scholarships for higher education were given to 11 students from local high schools and colleges as a reward for their gritty attitudes in the midst of physical, social and economic challenges.
“Perseverance can only lead to happiness, for even when you fail to reach the stars, you still make it over the mountains.”
Sydney Countryman from Lake Minneola High School said that writing a personal essay about her adversity
with a nerve condition was very difficult, and she shed a lot of tears in the writing process. But the hope that
there was a silver lining to her pain kept her going. She used the scholarship money to pay for severa
l textbooks for her freshman year.
Suzanne Chaar from East Ridge High School wasn’t sure she would be able to fulfill her dream of attending UCF.
When she received the award, a huge weight fell off her shoulders because she realized she could.
It was such a relief not to worry about money. She thought, “Okay, I can go to college now.”
Jose A. Perez from South Lake High School shares this personal thought for all those struggling with adversity: “Perseverance can only lead to happiness, for even when you fail to reach the stars, you still make it over the mountains.”
Wheelchair for Young Girl in Need
In 2018, we gifted a local 5-year-old with a $3000 wheelchair that was not covered by insurance. David and Leah Bultema met her through friends and were humbled at the chance to give back to someone in our area who has made it this far with the rare disorder of Trisomy 18. (Read the story behind Aaron Bultema HERE.) Most children diagnosed with the genetic syndrome do not make it to birth, and only 5-10% survive the first year.
It was a unique opportunity to be a blessing to others affected by Trisomy 18.
Donations to Trisomy 18 Foundation
We have also been able to donate over $2,000 to Trisomy 18 Foundation founded in 2003
to raise awareness of the genetic syndrome, also known as Edward’s syndrome.
The Foundation provides support and community to families suffering from the diagnosis.
They also advocate research, treatments, and prevention.You may notice that we seem to
highlight the numbers 3 and 18 a lot. It is not an accident, because as hard as our struggles are,
symbols remind us to push through and make a better tomorrow. The 18 represents the
Trisomy 18 syndrome, and the 3 represents that it contains a third chromosome when there
should only be two.
In our grief, seeds are planted that grow to reach out to others. What we do after the loss is what defines us.
Family and Individuals Experiencing Setbacks
Our amazing community reaches out when they know someone suffering a setback and AaronStrong has been able to donate $4000 to specific family and individuals. Whether it is a death in the family, an illness or an injury, the hope is that they realize others have walked through dark valleys too and they are not alone. They can keep fighting through, knowing that they have a community of support surrounding them.
We were also happy to donate to South Lake Hospital’s program that purchases dinner for families staying at the hospital. We gave $318 to help pay for meals in the fall of 2018.
DJ Myers and Family
When David saw Coach Woolum post on social media that one of his football players at South Lake High School suffered a devastating injury during a game, he jumped at the chance to donate to help out the family. As he realized how much the family was about to come up against, he rallied the masses, even getting the principal at Lake Minneola behind the effort.
“I’m broken but not defeated.”
They campaigned for three weeks to raise over $3000. Even though David didn’t know them personally he showed up at the hospital to encourage them before they headed home to start the long journey of recovery. DJ Myers spent three months at Orlando Regional Medical Center and has since returned to the football sideline, in his wheelchair, to cheer on his teammates. He is paralyzed from the waist down
but is hoping to finish high school and go on to college.
In November of 2018, his #1 jersey was retired at South Lake High School. He’s been known to say, “I’m broken but not defeated.” His spirit is strong. Not only did the family appreciate the effort, but David’s heart was being prepared for another injury that would hit his community.
Bailey Trinder and Family
On September 6, high school student Bailey Trinder was involved in a terrible car accident that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. His miraculous recovery after fighting a 4% chance of survival and spending 46 days in the hospital is credited to all the prayers and support from the community.
In total, $45,000 was raised for the Trinder family.
He returned to school on January 7th in his wheelchair and is adjusting to his new "normal.
" He is overwhelmed by the support of his school, Foundation Academy.
AaronStrong hosted several fundraisers from September-December for the Trinder family. In total, $45,000
was raised for the Trinder family. But in special recognition and tradition of the foundation, we added
$318 to the total. The family is grateful for the prayers and support of the community as well as the donations.
100% of our revenue comes in from fundraising, events, and donations. We rely on our community to come behind the mission of AaronStrong and give to keep us around. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to write such a big check to Bailey Trinder’s family or provide a wheelchair for a little girl. Our gratitude for your support cannot be overstated.
A special shout-out to our Diamond Contributors: Matt & Chelsea at Hancock Real Estate, Shane Greene with the Detroit Tigers, and Mark Stolarski.
We also want to recognize our Platinum Contributors: John and Nancy Nilsen, Rojas Properties, and Patty Raspa.
To anyone else who has participated in our annual 5K or golf tournament, signed up to donate monthly or came to our many local fundraisers with Bucks for Bailey and others, Thank you! We hope these stories encourage you to get involved in the encouragement of our community.
Written by Kim Patton
Marketing Journalist for AaronStrong