8-year-old skips birthday presents, asks for donations for toddler with rare illness

Rather than throw a big birthday party complete with presents and fanfare, Brooklynn Daniel, who turns 8 on Friday, wants guests who attend her bash to donate to the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research in honor of Evan Brenneman, her 22-month-old friend.

Brenneman is the son of Daniel’s former kindergarten teacher, and suffers from the life-threatening illness that causes compulsive overeating and hormonal issues. Patients with Prader-Willi Syndrome also experience delays in physical milestones, as well as have varying levels of intellectual disabilities, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Daniel, of Indiana, knew Brenneman was sick, but didn’t have the chance to meet him until recently at a playground, IndyStar reported.

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“He’s really cute,” she told the news outlet.

With her birthday approaching, Daniel initially had her heart set on heading to Great Wolf Lodge, but instead, this Saturday, she’ll host friends at The Flip Zone, and requested that they make a donation to the Team Evan fundraising page in Brenneman’s honor.

“I just thought that it would be something different, and it would be kind,” Daniel told IndyStar. “It’s my kindergarten teacher, I mean, I love her.”

Daniel, an older sister to twin siblings, also volunteers with special needs students at her school. Her former teacher, Natalie, told IndyStar that she’s touched by Daniel’s kindness.

“The heart of this girl makes mine burst,” she told IndyStar. “Brooklynn wants Evan to live life full, which is why she is celebrating her birthday by raising funds for Evan.” 

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