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Fawn teenager's desire to help others balloons

| Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 12:32 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Brett Campbell, 14, and a Highlands Middle School Student, made and sold about 500 button bracelets to help pay for her uncle, Jeff Grossman's, medical bills and physical therapy as he recovered from a traumatic brain injury. Brett was photographed last April with a container of buttons, bracelets and supplies at a work table in her home. Photo taken Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles updating stories covered by the VND from throughout 2013. The stories will appear daily, except Sunday, through the end of the year.

Brett Campbell spent countless hours sewing button bracelets to sell as a fundraiser for her uncle, who suffered a severe head injury in a fall earlier this year.

The Fawn teenager is done raising money for Jeff Grossman of Clinton Township now that he has, for the most part, recovered. But Brett has continued her efforts to give back to the community by making balloon art at nonprofit events — a sideline to an entrepreneurial venture she shares with an aunt.

Brett, who recently turned 15, said her experience helping her uncle prompted further generosity.

“It definitely did,” she said. “After seeing just what that did for my uncle and how much that helped, it was cool to do other stuff and help cheer up other people.”

Brett's fundraising raised more than $700 for her uncle. Grossman suffered nine broken ribs, spine fractures and a significant head injury from falling off a ladder in February while working at his general contracting business.

Brett and her aunt, Sherri Kuhn of Tarentum, who is sister to Brett's mother, Marsha Campbell, and Grossman's wife, Stacy, make balloon animals and do face painting at area birthday parties, family reunions and similar occasions.

Her recent charitable events have been the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches' Hunger Walk, the Senior Task Force at Center United Methodist Church in Fawn and the Halloween event at BridgePoint Church in Tarentum, where she made balloon art for hundreds of children in a pouring rain.

“She knew how to make balloons before, but since she had that good feeling about donating and helping her uncle, she realized about giving back and doing things for people who aren't as fortunate,” Brett's mother said.

This summer, Brett also participated with her twin brother, Braden, in the Children's Institute's bike camp in Monroeville. The teenagers taught special-needs kids how to ride bikes.

“It was Monday through Friday,” their mother said. “They ran all day; running or walking beside them or walking or jogging backwards.”

Brett said she was glad she was able to help her uncle financially as he recovered from his injuries, the most serious of which was a large blood clot on his brain, which required part of his skull to be removed for weeks until swelling subsided.

Stacy Grossman said her husband is doing fairly well mentally, but he continues to have problems physically with balance and coordination of his left hand.

“He has improved so much to where he was in the spring when he was completely paralyzed and had to learn how to talk and walk again,” Grossman said.

Grossman has run his construction business for 15 years and employs several workers. He can do only limited work himself, but continues to send employees to work on jobs that he bids.

The accident followed one several years ago in which he suffered a serious electrical shock, resulting in two hip replacements, since the voltage destroyed his joints.

“I told him I'm going to put him in bubble wrap,” Stacy Grossman said with a smile.

She said they held a spaghetti dinner and a concert fundraiser in April, and she is grateful for the donations — not only of those who attended, but those who put the events together.

“I want to thank everybody for all they did,” Grossman said. “There were people donating baskets to raffle off, and ground meat, bread, paper plates, desserts. Everyone donated something. And so many people donated so much of their time.”

Grossman said no other fundraisers are planned.

“We were blessed with what we got,” she said. “We're happy he's alive and able to function and walk and talk.”

Grossman said her niece would bring the money she raised in plastic bags to family Sunday dinners, and she and Brett's mother would assist in bracelet assembly.

“She couldn't keep up with the orders after it was in the newspaper,” she said. “I enjoyed making them with her. It was a good idea she had.”

Maria Guzzo is a freelance writer.

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