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National Honoree

Bria Brown

Florida

Bria Brown, 13, of Miami Gardens, Fla., an eighth-grader at North Dade Middle School and a five-year cancer survivor, gives other young cancer patients hope and encouragement by delivering teddy bears to them in the hospital and at their homes. Bria was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer when she was 6. After her disease went into remission, she wanted to honor the memory of 17 fellow cancer patients she had met in the hospital who did not survive. She began volunteering for the American Cancer Society as honorary chair of the local Relay for Life fund-raiser, and as an advocate for cancer research. But she wanted to do more.

Recalling that many people had given her teddy bears while she was in the hospital, Bria began giving her bears to other children stricken with cancer. Then she recruited friends, classmates and her Girl Scout troop to help her conduct a teddy-bear drive in her community. Before she delivers her bears, she finds out a little about the recipients, and then personalizes her teddy bears for them. "The best part is that I get to spend time with each child after I deliver the bear," said Bria. "This project is important because I have the ability to bring joy and hope to kids with cancer. My involvement will continue until there is a cure or until I leave this Earth."