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Valedictorian At Abbott Tech Pays It Forward To Hospital That Helped Her

17-year-old Natalee Brenner of Danbury — who was born with only two fingers on her right hand — raised $500 for Shriners Children's Hospital through a school fundraiser. Photo Credit: contributed
Natalee created the Leggings for Limbs fundraiser at Abbott Tech High School in Danbury. Photo Credit: contributed

DANBURY, Conn. -- 17-year-old Natalee Brenner of Danbury — who was born with just two fingers on her right hand — has a soft spot for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Massachusetts.

That's where Natalee went for treatment as a youngster.

So when was choosing a service project for the National Honor Society at Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury, she created one that would help her pay it forward to Shriners.

Through the project, called Leggings for Limbs, Natalie raised $500 from about 200 people in just two days.

As part of the fundraiser, students and staff at the school paid $2 to wear leggings, joggers or sweatpants to class. “Normally, they would have to follow the dress code ... which is khaki or black pants and polo shirts with the school logo,” said Natalee, who is her class valedictorian.

“I sat at a table in front of the building as students came into the school, and collected the money from them. They would get a stamp on their hand showing that they paid, and were not penalized for not wearing their uniform," she said.

Everyone -- regardless of whether they were wearing a uniform or not -- was invited to donate.

“I have always been positive and have never had my limitations stop me from accomplishing my dreams. Now, because of all those who supported this fundraiser, others can accomplish their dreams as well," said Natalee.

Shriners is a nonprofit network of hospitals nationwide that specialize in orthopedic care, burn care, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate reconstruction.  

They helped Natalee several times through the years.

When she was 7, she wanted to play the drums. “The occupational therapists at Shriners created a drumstick holder for my right hand so I could play," Natalee said.

Shriners also created a cosmetic prosthesis for her right hand, which she wore for a brief period.

To make a donation to Shriners Hospitals for Children, click here.

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