Community rallies around Winnebago girl with rare disease

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WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — A small town is showing up in a big way to help their neighbors. A family from the Village of Winnebago described the community’s support for their daughter in the wake of a medical diagnosis.

“It was a slow process from December 1st to January 6th a very slow process of [wondering] what’s wrong with our baby?” said Patrick Brûlé.

Between basketball games and softball practices, Emmy Brûlé is a typical 10-year-old girl–full of energy and always on the move. Until one day, her mom and dad noticed something wasn’t right.

“We noticed that she was a little pale, and then took her in for a check-up, and then from there the numbers were fairly low,” her dad Patrick said.

Emmy’s blood volume was so low, it led doctors to a diagnosis of an extremely rare disease called aplastic anemia. The condition means Emmy’s body isn’t producing enough new blood cells.

“It’s going to be a tough road and a long road ahead,” her dad explained.

The next step was finding someone who would be a match and could donate their bone marrow.

“Her brother was a perfect match as a sibling,” he explained. “When we found out it was definitely a big relief to the family, to know that these were almost a perfect situation.”

When family friend Jessie Zambrovitz and others in the Winnebago community found out what the family was going through, they wanted to help out.

“Small towns show up big when there’s people in need,” Zambrovitz explained.

To help, a local print shop is selling t-shirts. For every shirt sold, $10 goes to the family.

“We wanted to be able to support the family during this journey, help lighten their financial load a little bit. To help them focus more on getting Emmy well,” Zambrovitz said. “We’re not going to take this journey alone. We feel the love and support.”

To order a t-shirt, click here.

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