Foundation supports victims of cancer

Published 9:52 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bryson Wilson knows first-hand what it’s like to lose a parent too young in life. She was only 17 when her mother, Kathy Montgomery, died of breast cancer. Her sisters, Mary Ann Hudson and Beth Montgomery, were only 16 and 12.

Now the three sisters have banded together to create Fireflies and Fairytales, a foundation dedicated to helping those just like them, children that lose a parent to cancer.

“We knew we wanted to do something in memory of our mom,” said Wilson, now 30 with two children of her own. “There’s not very much out there for these children. They’re kind of the silent victims. We are those children. We lost our mom to cancer.”

The sisters work with the Fireflies and Fairytales store at Lee Branch, where they sell children’s clothing for a cause. Ten percent of the store’s profits go to the foundation, and all the proceeds from one particular clothing line, Fireflies and Fairytales Originals, go to the foundation.

“We just want to help as many kids as we can,” Hudson said.

This is the first year the foundation will help local families. Wilson began taking nominations for families to help in October. They received eight nominations, and were able to narrow it down to four.

“The reason we wanted to help families at Christmas is because holidays are the hardest time,” Wilson said. “Those memories resurface.”

The four chosen families have all been irreversibly changed by cancer.

There’s the 15-year-old California boy who lost both his parents to cancer in one year. He moved from place to place until he found a home with his aunt and uncle in Moody.

“He moved around quite a bit, and in the process of that, he kind of lost all his stuff,” Wilson said.

The foundation plans to give his family money to help buy clothes, pay for counseling and pay the necessary costs for a place on the high school wrestling team.

Another man, a college sophomore at Samford University, just lost his mother to cancer. While dealing with the emotional stress of her death, he also has to deal with the financial stress of losing that extra financial help for his education. Fireflies and Fairytales hopes to help ease some of that burden.

There’s the 20-year-old college student and new mother who just lost her father to cancer. The family has no money and an infant to care for.

“We want to donate baby clothes, and we have a photographer we work with. We want to set up a photo shoot,” Wilson said. “Pictures are something you cherish, especially when they’re young. As a mom, you want your children to dress cute, and they don’t have any money at all.”

Wilson doesn’t know for sure that they’ll be able to help the last person, a high school senior who just lost her mother while in the process of trying to get ready for college. The family hasn’t gotten back in touch with the foundation to accept their help. Wilson hopes she’ll hear back soon, however.

She said when the families find out they’ve been chosen, they’re amazingly grateful.

“You can hear their hearts break,” she said. “In the e-mails, you can see their heartbreak. But they’re so grateful.”

Right now, the foundation only has a few thousand dollars to split among those families. The sisters hope to see it grow, especially as word gets out and the clothing line catches on.

“Our hope is that we’ll see a snowball effect,” Wilson said. “I would like to see that we have so much money that we don’t have enough families to give it to.”