Brianna fund provides small gifts for ill children

Posted July 15, 2010, at 9:38 p.m.
For Joni Averill's column 7.16.10 Photo is courtesy of the Koncinsky family.  The Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids is named after Brianna Koncinsky, pictured here painting in the hospital while she was being treated for brain cancer. Koncinsky died at age 6 on Aug. 9, 2000.
For Joni Averill's column 7.16.10 Photo is courtesy of the Koncinsky family. The Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids is named after Brianna Koncinsky, pictured here painting in the hospital while she was being treated for brain cancer. Koncinsky died at age 6 on Aug. 9, 2000.

Perhaps what makes the nonprofit Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids so special is that the idea for the fund came from little Brianna Koncinsky while she was being treated for brain cancer before her death Aug. 9, 2000, when she was just 6 years old.

Unlike other funds, in which the money raised for individuals and families coping with difficulties of life are to help with staggering medical and other related expenses, the purpose of the Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids is “assisting with the non-medical needs of chronically ill and hospitalized children and their families,” according to its mission statement.

“Simply put, our goal as an organization is to help put smiles on the faces of children that are facing treatments for illness or who are hospitalized.”

When I spoke this week with Brianna’s grandmother Lucille Koncinsky, she recalled being with Brianna in the hospital, and remembers “hearing her say how lucky we are to have a big family,” because someone was always coming by and bringing her things to help distract and entertain her when she was receiving her treatment.

“She told me she would look around at the other kids, who might not have someone with them, or things to play with,” Lucille said, and Brianna would feel sorry for them.

“She was a very, very compassionate kid, so this [fundraiser] was really her idea.”

Brianna’s Fund has raised thousands of dollars to help purchase the simple things of life that can help make children happy, even in difficult and trying circumstances.

Those purchases include distraction activities and toys, birthday or other gift packages for hospitalized children, video games, DVDs and DVD players for hospitals or pediatric clinics, and care packages for children and families going to out-of-state facilities for treatment.

Those gifts can range from books and art supplies to phone cards to keep families connected, according to the mission statement.

And while major medical, transportation, food and lodging expenses need to be covered, Brianna always knew it was the little things that could make a tremendous difference in the life of an ailing child.

Today, plans are under way for the ninth annual Brianna Rachel Fund for Kids Golf Tournament with tee times beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at Kenduskeag Golf and Country Club.

This year’s nine-hole scramble is in memory of not only Brianna, but also her grandfather Ed Koncinsky and her uncle Bob Girvan II, who died within months of each other in 2008.

The entry fee is $30 per golfer, and first prizes will be offered in three divisions for four-person men, women and mixed teams. The cost to reserve a cart is $10.

Several other prizes and lunch are included. Reserve a spot by sending your check to Lucille Koncinsky, 399 Stetson Road West, Levant 04456; calling her at 884-4199 or e-mailing lukay@msn.com.

The golfer who makes the first hole-in-one on the eighth hole will win a $10,000 shopping spree, courtesy of Tuffy Bear Furniture.

Lucille told me hole sponsorships are still available, at $100 for a single message or $50 for signs with other messages. The organizers welcome contributions, in any amount, of gift certificates, lucky draw prizes and cash donations.

“We’ll take as many as we can get,” Lucille said of hole sponsorships, especially, but any contribution is appreciated to sustain this fund for youngsters who, today, are doing their best to cope with the treatments and therapies necessitated by their medical condition.

It’s so simple, as Brianna knew, to be happier and more content, despite what you are going through, when you have something special to do, to play with, to read, to watch, to paint.

Little things make a big difference, as has Brianna.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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