Bristol 4th grader fashions T-shirts

BRISTOL – Gus Mullenax wasn’t surprised when his 9-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, told him she wanted to do something to help victims of a recent tragedy.

“She’s so matter-of-fact. She said, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ It’s not like she asked. She said, ‘This is what I’d like to do for the Boston Marathon victims,'” he recalled.

This isn’t the first time Brooklyn has raised money for a charitable cause – she crafted bracelets, wallets and purses out of duct tape last year and sold them to raise money for Marisa Kay Vincent, a 7-year-old who was run over by a Bobcat loader. She also made and sold lemonade.

This year, she wanted to make more duct tape items and sell them, but her father suggested something else instead.

“We kind of brainstormed and came up with the idea of selling T-shirts,” he said.

Brooklyn drew about 30 different designs, and finally settled on one that depicted a peace sign with a road inside it that says ”Road to Healing.” The colors representing the Boston Marathon, blue and yellow, also were chosen.

The shirts are being printed by New Dawn Design in Girard, which based the design off Brooklyn’s drawing. The business is printing the shirts at a discount, which will help raise even more money for the cause.

Each T-shirt comes with a blue-and-yellow duct tape ribbon made by Brooklyn.

“I asked her, ‘How many would you be happy with selling?’ and she said, ‘If I sold three or five I’d be happy,'” Mullenax said with a smile.

As of Thursday afternoon, she had sold close to 400. Brooklyn now says her new goal is 1,000.

“We’ve had a lot of backing from a lot of people,” Mullenax said, including the Champion Boosters, who bought one for every junior high and high school track athlete; Concord Steel / LB Steel, who bought one for every employee; and numerous other area residents and businesses.

“My oldest daughter works in a factory in Chardon, and all the employees there bought one,” he said. “It’s just been so exciting.”

The money will go to a fund set up by the Boston mayor and state governor,, but Mullenax said some of the money may go to a special fund that was set up for 8-year-old victim Martin Richard.

“I know the children affected really have a special place in Brooklyn’s heart,” he said.

“I hope they use (the money) for when they have to go to the doctors and if they have any problems, or use it to get replacement arms or legs,” Brooklyn said.

Mullenax said the success of the fundraiser wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the community.

“Thank you so much for supporting the cause. Brooklyn looks like the hero here – and she really is – but when someone needs help, everyone in the Valley digs deep and helps and that’s really something. It’s a special place,” he said.

Shirts can be ordered by visiting the Facebook page of Brooklyn’s mother, Debbie Mullenax, and sending her a message.