She took a double-take when she saw her daughter’s backpack. She immediately saw that something wasn’t quite right with it.
It was bulging, practically bursting at the seams. As a mother, she was immediately curious and worried – she had always worried about Addie. But when she unzipped the backpack and saw what was inside, her jaw came unhinged.
When Julie Bryan gave birth to little Addie, she never knew that she would be spending so much of her young life at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
After a long delivery, Julie was exhausted. But she and her husband were excited to welcome their baby into the world. Then, they saw the expression on the doctor’s face.
Addie was just a few hours old when she was diagnosed with a suspected condition that had affected the development of the bones in her legs.
Within days, the tiny girl had the first of many delicate surgeries, and each left her parents feeling more broken than the last. Still, they knew that they had to stay strong for their little girl.
After more visits with doctors than they could count, Addie was finally diagnosed with Larsen syndrome – an extremely rare genetic disorder that only affects 1 in 1000 people.
Larsen syndrome prevents bones from developing properly throughout the body. While Larsen syndrome may result in something as harmless as a hammertoe, there are often more serious and far-reaching complications.
Addie’s parents would never forget the day they were told about their daughter’s prognosis. Even after many surgeries to correct the problem, her legs were not completely straight.
Her doctors worried that this would hamper her ability to walk, and they were concerned that she would never be able to live a normal life. But Addie proved them all wrong.
After four surgeries, Addie was finally allowed to leave the Scottish Rite Hospital and go home with her parents for the first time. She went from strength to strength after that and lived just like any other child.
Despite what the doctors had said, little Addie became mobile in her own way. Her legs looked a little awkward, but her parents were happy that she wasn’t in any pain. Although there was still a long road ahead, nobody could have guessed where it would eventually lead them.
When Addie was seven years old, she had already undergone 65 surgeries to correct her legs. But Addie was a fearless girl and, with the support of her loving parents, she took everything in her stride.
The Scottish Rite Hospital had done an amazing job over the years. Addie was able to walk – and even run – just like any other child. But what Addie would go on to do would shock everyone.
Due to all the time spent in the hospital when she was growing up, Addie was always happy to be out and about. She loved to run everywhere, and she loved going to school.
Her mom didn’t worry too much when she didn’t come home straight after school. She was probably making new friends – and that could only be a good thing… right?
Addie spent a lot of time away from home when she wasn’t at the hospital or with her parents. Julie assumed that she was just playing with the other kids, as children should. She had no idea that Addie wasn’t playing.
Addie’s mom only began to suspect that something wasn’t right when she noticed Addie’s backpack. Every time her daughter came home, that backpack was a little bigger. One day, it had grown too big to ignore.
Julie waited until Addie was sound asleep before she went hunting for the backpack. She was curious, but worried as well. What was her daughter doing dragging that huge backpack in and out of the house every day?
When Julie found it, It was practically bursting at the seams. She unzipped it and her heart stopped. How had such a little girl hidden such a big secret?
The bag was filled with stacks of green paper. Piles and piles of it. The astounded mom’s eyes grew wide and her jaw became slack.
She tipped the bag and wads and wads of notes spilled out the backpack. But where on Earth had a seven-year-old found what had to be thousands of dollars in cash?
Julie was horrified when she thought about what her daughter could be involved in. She considered waking her up right there and then to confront her, but she decided to calm herself instead. She’d ask Addie just where she’d gotten all that cash in the morning.
Although she’d soon know the how, the why of it all would be astounding.
The next morning over breakfast, Julie nervously broached the subject of the enormous sum of money that was somehow in Addie’s possession, absolutely terrified of what she may hear. She pulled the backpack onto the table and pulled the wads of cash out one by one.
Julie’s heart thudded in her chest as the little girl began to explain.
Addie seemed to be completely oblivious about the magnitude of the situation, and she couldn’t understand why her mom looked so shocked. “I just hold a sign that says, ‘For my birthday wish, I want to raise $8,000 for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital,’” she said innocently.
Julie’s heart broke with love for her sweet child. Addie had gone through such trials in her short life, and all she wanted to do was give something back. Julie knew she needed to help her with her mission.
From then on, Julie stood with Addie at the intersection in Houston, Texas, collecting money from passersby. Soon, everyone was talking about the generosity of the tiny girl who doctors thought would never walk.
Addie had stood in the Texas heat on her own two feet, determined to give back to the hospital that had given her so much.