Brady Burns and LES teacher, Melissa Prenger team up

TO help kids in Children’s Hospital

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (October 27, 2021) – Brady Burns gets very bored during his monthly visit to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for a 12 hour treatment due to a health condition. He noticed other children going through medical treatments, some much longer than his own, are equally bored. He decided to do something to help make their time go a little easier.

Melissa Prenger with former student Brady Burns in her 3rd Grade classroom where she started the Kindness Council (Chuck Gibson)

Burns, now a sophomore at Loveland High School, thought of his third grade teacher from Loveland Elementary School, Melissa Prenger.  They made a special connection all those years ago. Prenger started the “Kindness Council” in her homeroom the year after Brady was in her class. She also taught his younger brother Connor two years later when she expanded the program into the compassion project in each class.

“I started the ‘Kindness Council’ the year after I had Brady,” said Prenger. “I was just doing it with my own homeroom. Then I decided to expand it out and have each class pick someone who was a good representation of kindness and compassion. His brother was the one I picked the year I had Connor.”

“He did the compassion project,” said Brady. “He loved it. So many years later now, I just remember Mrs. Prenger’s class.”

Back then they met every month, did something which had kindness in it and then organized a compassion project. In September, Brady reached out to Mrs. Prenger by email to share his idea to collect books for the children while they are going through their treatment at the hospital.

“I see kids there, some are younger than me, some are older than me, that stay down there for days on end,” Brady said. “I was just thinking: what can I do to help them not be bored like I am.”

CLICK HERE to see what Brady did next. NOTE: Video by Loveland Schools.

The “Kindnes Council” board in Melissa Prengers 3rd grade classroom at LES this school year (Chuck Gibson)

Brady was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease two years ago while in eighth grade. It affects his muscles. He goes to Children’s Hospital once a month to receive IV infusions which help him for the month. The treatment process takes 12 hours. During those “boring, nothing to do” treatments, he  saw the opportunity to help others and reached out to Melissa. Prenger for help.

“I knew she did the kindness council,” he explained. “I was like hey, I just want to organize books, toys, anything to get to people down at Children’s.”

Prenger responded to his email and they started collecting books. She wondered what they could do. It coincided with a book fair which was coming up at the time. They went beyond the book fair.

“I thought, with that, we could have new books be donated,” Prenger said. “I work with Mrs. Tobias, the media specialist, and she did a coin drive. The coin drive proceeds also went to purchasing books.”

The “Coin Drive” hosted among students at Loveland Primary School (LPS) and Loveland Elementary School (LES) brought in about $2,100 to be used to purchase books. Brady visited the book fair that Thursday afternoon and chose some books to be purchased with the coin drive money. That was in addition to approximately 400-500 books donated.

“I would say we probably had about 1,000 books we were able to donate to Children’s Hospital,” said Prenger. “Which is a thousand smiles and a thousand days made as far as I’m concerned.”

Brady with Melissa Prenger and some of the books they collected for Children’s Hospital kids (Provided)

Brady just had his most recent treatment during the week of October 18-24 and was able to deliver a box of the books. He didn’t get to see some of the other kids with books that first day. There was an opportunity for him to learn a little about the impact his compassion project is having at the hospital.

“Some of the doctors and nurses came in and thanked me,” Brady said. “

The doctors and nurses know what a big difference it makes. His former teacher is impressed with Brady’s awareness and compassion at such a young age. Going through his own hardships, but still thinking of other people left an impression on Melissa Prenger.

“I think that says a lot about him,” Prenger said. “It makes him a true leader. It’s like every little thing he does . . . you don’t realize how a small impact makes a big difference.” 

That big difference coming from small acts of kindness is exactly why she started the kindness council and compassion projects in the first place. Her own small action starting that all those years ago is a great example of the seeds planted in Loveland Schools, by a Loveland teacher taking root and blooming into goodness beyond the boundaries of the Loveland classrooms where they were first planted.

Brady Burns looks over some of the books at the book fair to be purchased by proceeds from the “Coin Drive” held at LPS and LES (Provided)

“It’s just a good feeling knowing that you made that difference,” she said.

For Brady Burns, it was remembering a teacher who showed kindness and taught a lesson long ago, which helped him respond when he saw a need.

He said the idea to do something came when he overheard the mother of another child during an elevator ride at the hospital. Her story touched his heart.

 “She was talking about how her daughter has been there for months,” said Brady. “I was like Wow! I can barely do one day. I’m hoping to make people’s days better.”

Brady is hoping to expand the book project to other schools in Loveland. He is already reaching out to Jaime Heybruch, counselor at LECC, to help plan another book project at LECC in November. Because he reached out to Prenger, they called what they did in September the first compassion project of the year. They continue to call Brady’s efforts a compassion project. All of this while he has been active in extracurricular school activities like helping out with the Tiger Cross Country teams, joining the bowling team, and tennis while hoping to return as cross country runner next season.

LCSD Superintendent Mike Broadwater (Provided)

Loveland School District Superintendent Mike Broadwater knows there are so many good things teachers do they just don’t make known publicly. He sees those good things happening, and has a sense of a good community feeling going on. They are trying to share the good things happening because he believes it is important for the community to know and understand.

‘I think it’s important we put it out so people can see all the great things going on,” said Broadwater. “We came up with a hashtag. It’s hashtag #beLOVEland where everything is lower case except the word LOVE; just to show we love the kids, we love what we do, we love the community.”

Prenger echoed his sentiment saying the purpose of the hashtag is to show ways they are thinking of other people in the community and ways they give back to the community.

“It’s sharing the good things we do here at school with the community,” Prenger explained. “Also the relationships teachers are building with their students. The fact that all these years later, Brady thought of me, messaged me and include me in that, that’s #beLOVEland; the relationships built between teacher and student and how we can use those relationships for the common good to give back to the community.”

The community has heard the message, seen and felt the kindness. Wendy Knight, owner of Lemons and Limes Boutique in Loveland has taken #beLOVEland to the next level of giving. She is producing t-shirts and stickers with the hashtag. Lemons and Limes Boutique is donating proceeds from those sales to benefit Hope Squad at the Loveland Schools as well as providing the t-shirts to members of Hope Squad to help identify them to other students who may need their help. Knight is impressed with Brady’s compassion project.

#beLOVEland t-shirt available at Lemon and Limes Boutique (Provided)

“It’s so inspiring when you come across these kids in our community that see a problem, come up with a solution and then just really go after it to execute it,” said Knight. “Brady sounds like an amazing kid. I’d like to meet him because we’d like to be a book drop-off location for him. We’d love to support Brady in his efforts to get those books to Children’s. What an amazing kid, and for him to give back while he’s going through his own medical challenge is just really incredible.”

Click on image to visit website and purchase #beLOVEland t-shirts (Provided)

Knight took it another step further suggesting they may offer a discount or small gift to anyone who drops off a book for the compassion. project. It is the kind of opportunity, she says, Lemons and Limes Boutique is always looking for. Knight cited this as another example of how she has witnessed first—hand the connection between Loveland Schools teachers, students and the community. When the students and teachers connect, it can have a ripple effect impacting other lives and making a big difference.

Boxes of books Brady Burns delivered to Children’s Hospital during his last treatment earlier in October (Provided)

“Mrs. Prenger’s class was always fun,” Brady said. “She was always very kind and I just clicked with her and just remembered her.”

It means a lot to Mrs. Prenger to have a student remember her, reach out and ask for her help beyond the lessons taught in the classroom.

“Helping them grow, not just as students, but as people, that’s really important to me,” Prenger said. “Him saying I want you to help me with that was a very high compliment. He said I made a difference in his life and as a result he wants to make a difference in someone else’s life. That meant everything. That’s what I think all teachers strive for.”

 

If you want to help, contact Melissa Prenger by email at: prengeme@lovelandschools.org

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CLICK HERE for more on Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

CLICK HERE for more on Lemons and Limes Boutique