Sartell Mom Raises Funds for Angel Statue in Memory of Her Daughter [VIDEO]
SARTELL -- It was a Saturday Tami Kruzel will never forget. Both she and her husband, Randy Kruzel, came home late from work and sat down to eat dinner together. In the distance they could hear their daughter BriAnna and son Brandon laughing from the other side of their home. Little did Tami know but this would be the last time she'd hear her daughter laugh.
Both Tami and Randy went to say goodnight to their kids. Randy went downstairs to BriAnna's room and found her on her bedroom floor and called Tami for help. Being a nurse Tami's first instinct was to do CPR but it was too late, BriAnna had passed.
Doctors couldn't determine the 18-year-old's cause of death and this made the grieving process even more difficult for Tami.
"Coping is really a hard word to even say because you don't really cope--you just have this life saver--that floaty in the water that holds you up from drowning." --Tami
The entire family started the non-profit organization What Would Bri Do (WWBD) as a way to cope with her death. Tami says WWBD has been her escape and has allowed her to still be BriAnna's mother.
The organization donates funds towards other causes or non-profits that Bri would have supported.
Tami says BriAnna cared for everyone and loved to volunteer through the community ed program as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. BriAnna won the Big Sister of the Year award for 2013 and the 2013 St. Cloud Optimist award through her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"The biggest thing about BriAnna in any picture you'll ever look at is she had the biggest smile and she always wore that smile on her face -- I don't think she's ever treated anyone poorly in her whole life." --Tami
Each year since BriAnna's passing in 2013 the What Would Bri Do Foundation does a large project in BriAnna's name. This year they are hosting a fundraiser at the Grands at Mulligans to raise money for an angel of hope statue. The angel statue will be placed in a developing Sartell park near Lake Francis.
The Kruzel family is working with the Fairview Gardens and the City of Sartell as to how to design the area around the angel statue. Tami says Sartell is working on putting pavers around the statue. Anyone can purchase a paver in memory of the child they lost.
"When we decided on this project, we decided that every person is a child of someone so it doesn't matter what age a person was that passed away --If they want to put a paver down in memory of one of them that's great."
The angel of hope statue will cost around $14,500. The foundation's fundraiser will be on Tuesday from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at the Grands at Mulligans. The event will feature a pasta dinner and silent auction.
Although the What Would Bri Do foundation allows Tami to escape and feel closer to BriAnna she still misses her daughter and can't help but think of some of the moments her and BriAnna never got the chance to share.
"I'll never get to be the mother of the bride, see her dance with her daddy, so those things are really hard --I'll never get to help her with her baby, so seeing those things with her friends is tough, her friends are getting engaged, graduating and we'll never be able to do that-- it's tough all the way around." --Tami
Tami and the Kruzel family take each day at time and always keep BriAnna close in their hearts.