In seventh grade, Priscilla Suzal-Wright started making friendship bracelets as a hobby. About the same time, she and her mother were volunteering with the transplant foundation.
Her mother had gotten involved with the foundation when she and a friend participated in a holiday angel program and the child was involved with the transplant foundation. The little boy had a bone marrow transplant and they gave presents to him and his brothers and sisters.
“We wanted to really bring Christmas to them,” Suzal-Wright says. “It was life changing. We fell in love with it. We started going to the walk-a-thon. Now we know plenty of people with transplants.”
Suzal-Wright brought volunteering and fundraising together by selling the bracelets to raise money for the foundation. She sold the bracelets to most of the people she knew, friends, family and her mom’s co-workers.
“Anyone I could get hold of. Slowly but surely it got bigger,” she says.
It wasn’t long before she gathered her friends together to form a fundraising group called Knots of Hope.
“I brought in my four closest friends last summer. We brought in their sisters and their friends. And now there are other girls who want to join as well,” she says.
Today there are 23 girls involved. The group includes Lauren Martin, Nikki Baralt, Gaby Baralt, Rachel Jara, Nati Aguirre, Nicole Aguirre, Taylor Perry, Tatyana Bidopia, Isabella Leventhal, Natalie Abad, Patricia Trujillo, Marlin Gonzalez, Scarlett Artola and Carolina Flores.
They are selling more bracelets than ever. They also donate bracelets to children at Miami Children’s Hospital, where they also volunteer.
“It’s grown a lot since the seventh grade,” she says.
Melissa Chediak-Wetzel, the Transplant Foundation’s director of development, says they have taken something that is fun and girly and made it into a truly benevolent act.
“They visit the kids at the hospital and they visit our Transplant House once a month,” Chediak-Wetzel says. “It’s an uplifting experience for the patients and for the parents as well.”
If Chediak-Wetzel has her way, the Knots of Hope girls will get permission to go to the transplant floor at the Holtz Children’s Hospital so they can visit the children there.
Most of the girls are in high school at Coral Reef, Ferguson, MAST, TERRA, Southwest and Killian. Some of the girls attend Arvida Middle School.
“We do garage sales. We’re hoping to do a car wash,” Suzal-Wright says. “We do walkathons. We have volunteered at various events for the transplant foundation.”
On Oct. 2, the group is putting on its first gala. Chediak-Wetzel says the gala will mark the Knots of Hope’s one-year anniversary.
“We have a goal of raising about $10,000,” Suzal-Wright says. “We want to get funds so we can continue to grow and to give funds to the transplant foundation.”
The event is limited because it’s being held in a private home. Next year, they hope to have a more open venue and invite the public.
Suzal-Wright contacted Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner about Knots of Hope to see if the mayor could help in publicizing the gala and the organization. Lerner was impressed and contacted the news media.
The group hopes to videotape a message from Mayor Lerner to be presented at the gala.
To order a friendship bracelet, email email@example.com. For more information, go to Fans of Knots of Hope on Facebook or call the Transplant Foundation at 954-395-6024.