Neelin High School student Tessa Burt is designing and selling her own line of jewelry to help raise money for the A Sense of Home fundraising campaign for Murray House. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Cancer touches us all in one way or another. For Grade 10 student Tessa Burt, that unfortunate reality rang true in 2011 when her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was difficult for the family to deal with, and as an emotional outlet, Burt soon began making Pink Ribbon Jewellery.
"I thought that in honour of my grandma, I could do something towards helping other people that have the same problem as her," she said.
For every piece of jewelry sold, $2 is donated to A Sense of Home cancer residence building campaign.
Burt has been designing jewelry for years, using hemp and beads. It was in July when she was inspired to use pink ribbon charms to make bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
"I found all these breast cancer ribbons, and it’s just becoming bigger and bigger every day," said the 15-year-old Neelin High School student.
Through friends, family and word-of-mouth, Pink Ribbon Jewellery has sold more than 100 pieces.
"At first I was a bit overwhelmed because we’d just been doing it by word of mouth ... and I was really surprised that it was elevating so quickly," Burt said.
Burt’s jewelry pieces are named after cancer survivors in her life, and for friends and family who have inspired her along the way.
"I was trying to figure out how I was going to differentiate them," she said. "So I decided I was going to choose names of people that were supporting me or have encouraged me to keep going … I chose my friends’ names, and family and just people that have really helped me though this."
Burt’s mother, Patti-Jo Burt, and sister Kayla, 11, pitch in to help create Pink Ribbon Jewellery.
"We each have our own jobs that we’re kind of the best at," Patti-Jo said. "We’ve had fun designing them."
Burt’s grandmother, Fran Hawkins, is currently going through radiation treatment in Brandon and is very proud of what her granddaughter has accomplished.
Burt made a donation of $230 to A Sense of Home campaign Wednesday.
"I really wanted to help out the people that were going to be coming into Brandon for cancer care," Burt said.
"Maybe they had to come in from a different town and they couldn’t drive back and forth, so I really just wanted to put some spotlight on that."
A Sense of Home campaign co-ordinator Karen Chrest was thrilled by the donation.
"(Tessa) is a special girl, and it’s those kind of contributions that have really shown great community spirit," Chrest said.
"I think she’s just a great example of young people in this community that can really make a difference, and she’s made a difference to our campaign."
The campaign will help fund the construction of Murray House at 521 Frederick St., which is in close proximity to both the Western Manitoba Cancer Centre and the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
It will serve cancer patients in rural Manitoba as they travel to Brandon for care.
The goal is to provide a welcoming, comfortable and convenient residence for the patient and their family.
Now sitting at approximately $2.47 million, the campaign is fast approaching its proposed goal of $2.5 million.
To view Burt’s designs, visit Pink Ribbon Jewellery on Facebook.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2012