Rolesville, N.C. — When families go through tough times, the communities they live in often offer priceless support.
On Saturday, the Rolesville community gathered for a dance-a-thon to show support and raise money for the family of Brooke Parrish, a 12-year-old girl who is actively battling a rare liver disease.
Since she was diagnosed with hepatopulmonary syndrome earlier this year, Brooke has tried to continue her active lifestyle. She dances and plays softball, despite breathing difficulties caused by the syndrome.
"It's only that time when I am playing softball or doing dance," Brooke said of her breathing struggles. "Otherwise, I feel fine."
For Jeanette Whalen, a neighbor who organized the event through a group called "Brooke's Buddies," Saturday's fundraiser was a chance to help a family in need and make the difficulty of being on a liver transplant waiting list a bit easier to handle.
"I had to do something," Whalen said. "I couldn't change it, but I could do this to help them through the financial burden."
Unfortunately for the Parrish's, Brooke's ordeal isn't the first time they have suffered hardship. In 2006, Gregory Parrish, Brooke's older brother, died from a disease that caused tumors to form in his nervous system. Brooke, who was 6 years old at the time, said the memories of her brother's death made her diagnosis more frightening in the beginning.
"It scared me at first, but my parents talked to me and said that I don't have what he had. That made me feel better," she said.
Gary Parrish, Brooke's father, said the family never expected to have to go through another medical crisis.
"To have two different children with two totally different diseases, it's just mind boggling to me," he said. "I just don't understand. I have two other children, knock on wood, who are hopefully fine."
Organizers were hoping to raise $10,000 at Saturday's fundraiser, but thanks to community support and donations from local businesses, they surpassed that mark.