Saturday Spotlight: Raising Sweet $16,000

by: Sarah Lively, web producer Updated:

SHELBY - Haléa Mitchell did not want to have a traditional Sweet 16; she did not want to have a big party, or even get a new car. Instead she told her mom she wanted to give back.

“I think it speaks of her character,” said Haléa’s mom, Kim Mitchell. “She’s always been a caring person.”

A little more than a year ago Haléa met Madison Allison at a baby shower she attended with her mom. Madison was almost 9 years old at the time. She suffers from cystic fibrosis.

Madison was diagnosed with CF when she was 14 months old. According to the American Lung Association, CF is an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.

Haléa stayed connected with Madison and even helped with her ninth birthday party.

As Haléa began to think about service ideas for her Sweet 16, what she wanted to do became obvious.

Haléa told her mom she wanted to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Although no amount would be too small, Haléa said she wanted to set $16,000 as her goal.

“[I’m] trying to support [Haléa] and let her do what she wants to do. Cystic fibrosis doesn’t get the funding that other organizations do,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also said Haléa’s wish has had a large impact on her extended family and she hopes it will extend to the Shelby community.

To reach her goal, Haléa has already planned a few events. She’s enlisted friends from Shelby High School to help with a letter writing campaign. She’s also selling donuts and bracelets for the CF Foundation. Haléa is helping plan an event for May, structured similarly to the format of reality television show “The Amazing Race.”

For her big fundraising event Haléa is planning a 5K, the date is still to be determined.

Haléa is seeking sponsors for both events. If your business is interested in sponsoring or participating in the May event or 5K, click here to send a message to her Facebook event page.

Madison once told her family she did not want to make plans for the future because of her illness.

When asked what made her want to help Madison, Haléa said, “I’ve actually met her and seen how happy she was. You wouldn’t even know she was sick. I just want to give her that chance [to make future plans].”

Madison wears a vest twice a day for 20 minutes for her CF. According to the CF Foundation, the vest vibrates the chest to loosen and thin mucus. Madison receives various other treatments and has occasional hospital visits to treat the disease.

Madison’s family started an organization to raise awareness of CF, called Madison’s Hope.

Approximately 30,000 Americans are living with CF. There is currently no cure for the disease. Haléa wants the money she raises to go toward finding a cure.

Haléa’s 16th birthday was on March 19. She considers that to be the kickoff for raising $16,000, and plans to have the money raised by March 19, 2015 -- her 17th birthday.

Click here if you’d like to contribute to Haléa’s fundraiser, you can select her name from the list of team members. To learn more about Madison’s Hope, click here.