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Toledo’s Hailey Brown exceeds goal for Hudson Project

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10-year-old Toledo student Hailey Brown shows off a bracelet she made with rubber bands for her fundraiser The Hudson Project, an initiative launched June 22 to help her younger brother, Hudson, who was born deaf, blind and autistic.

A Toledo student has so far surpassed a fundraising goal to buy play equipment for her disabled younger brother, and is continuing in her efforts to raise money for her brother’s special needs class, as well.

10-year-old Hailey Brown had begun The Hudson Project on June 22 with the goal of selling bracelets to raise $400 for her brother Hudson to have a specialized swing, as Hudson, just 6 years old, was born legally blind and deaf, as well as autistic. As of this Monday, Brown has raised $850 through bracelet sales and community donations, and she is expected to raise even more this weekend during Cheese Days.

“It’s blown up, really,” said Kristina Cook, Brown’s mother, of the fundraising efforts, noting Brown had initiated the project all on her own when summer break began.

“I’ve never seen so many 20-dollar bills,” noted Brown of the funds that have been collected.

Cook said, while Brown has recently been featured in local news reports, participation in The Hudson Project has largely come through Facebook and word of mouth, whereby family and friends encourage those around them to participate.

“She’s actually getting a response nation-wide,” said Cook, explaining her family’s attorney is from New Jersey and had shared Facebook links with those in the area. “A little girl in New Jersey saw this and she’s actually making a whole bunch of bracelets to mail over. We’re hoping that they’ll be here before Cheese Days.”

During Cheese Days, Brown has arranged to take part in various booths set up around the community, expecting to partner with the Toledo Lions Club at their booth in the morning, and then with Farmer’s Insurance that evening. She will also be able to ride atop the Cheese Days Float in lieu of a Cheese Days Court, which Cook said she and her husband had already been intending to tow for the parade.

“She calls herself ‘The Cheese Queen,’” said Cook “That’s not an actual title. She’s more of just a volunteer.”

“The Volunteer Queen,” replied Brown.

With donations coming in far in excess of their original goal, Cook said Brown is taking the opportunity to generate remaining funds for the special education program at Toledo Elementary School (TES), of which Hudson is a student. Cook said a meeting between Brown and Superintendent Sharon Bower, as well as new TES Principal Angela Bacon, is scheduled for this week, to continue discussing the needs of the program.

“We’ve been working with the occupational therapist, and the specialists for the blind…and they are giving some suggestions of what they would like to see,” said Cook, stating equipment such as a water table and tricycles with adjustable pedals have been proposed.

Once her efforts with The Hudson project are complete, Brown said she sees herself starting another fundraiser, making and selling drawings to raise money for an improved crosswalk for her brother. While this next step is still in the planning phases, The Hudson Project remains very much under way, and those wishing to find out more can go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hudson-Project/331442250344013 to find out more, as well as http://www.gofundme.com/am7zss.

For those who have yet to met Hudson, Brown said she would like people to understand that, though his life has had some significant challenges, and he may be able to scream very loud, she is generally a very kind individual.

“Once you get to know him, he’s really nice,” she said. “Not a mean person.”

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