Fundraiser to Benefit Rady Children's Hospital

The Brewer Family

Donna Brewer's worst nightmare came true the day she franticly drove to Rancho Springs Medical Center with her teenage daughter dying in the passenger seat.

When the Murrieta mother of three arrived at the hospital's entrance, she laid into her car horn and started screaming for help. Soon after, Brewer's youngest daughter, Kassidy, was whisked into the emergency room.

"Within minutes they realized there was massive bleeding in her brain," Brewer said.

A doctor drilled a hole into her skull to release the building pressure, saving her life, Brewer said. Then the 13-year-old was taken by helicopter to Rady Children's Hospital San Diego.

It was there that Kassidy would receive many months of specialized medical attention, help that brought the girl back from the brink of death toward a largely normal life, Brewer said.

For that aid, the Brewers are hosting a large fundraiser July 30 in Murrieta to benefit the hospital.

"Rady did so many things; they were a family," Brewer said. "They got us through the most difficult time in our life. It's time for us to give back to those nurses and doctors, a way of saying thank you."

The free "family fun day" fundraiser, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gateway Plaza Murrieta shopping center just east of Interstate 215 at 39621 Los Alamos Road, will feature a large silent auction, food, live music, bounce houses, BMX shows, a local business expo and tae kwon do demonstrations.

The guest of honor will be Kassidy, now 16, who has spent the last three years recovering from that fateful day in August 2008 when her life changed forever.

Before the incident, Kassidy rarely got sick and was a stellar athlete who played on a travel soccer team and had a black belt in karate, her mother said.

But it turns out Kassidy has a genetic illness called arteriovenous malformation. Located in her brain, it's a tangle of abnormal arteries and veins, which ruptured and caused a hemorrhage.

Doctors told the Brewers that Kassidy's case was special, that most patients with bleeding as massive as hers do not survive.

"She is very much a miracle," Brewer said.

While at Rady, Kassidy was in a coma for several months, and underwent 12 surgeries, eight of them brain surgeries. The girl suffered a stroke during one of them.

During this time, not only was the Rady staff supportive, but the Murrieta community was, too.

"There were prayer vigils, people brought us food," Brewer said. "We are eternally grateful to our hometown."

When Kassidy woke up she couldn't walk, talk or eat on her own, her mother said. Over the years, a combination of physical, occupational and speech therapy have helped Kassidy return to a largely normal life, Brewer said.

So much so, that at the fundraiser, Kassidy is set to earn her second-degree black belt from the Murrieta-based Final Strike Martial Arts.

Also, a film crew from ABC's new reality television show "Everyday Health Heroes" will be taping for an upcoming episode featuring Kassidy, her mother said.

"It's such a blessing to share her story," Brewer said.

This story appeared on Thursday July 28, 2011 in the North County Times.