A 9-year-old Arkansas girl is making a big splash in the life of one of her friends who is suffering from a rare genetic skin condition, ABC 8 News reported.
Ten-year-old Anne Marie Cox has epidermolysis bullosa, which causes blisters due to friction or slight pressure. Wanting her friend to find relief, Bethany Walker, 9, set off to raise money for a saltwater pool that would help ease Anne Marie’s sores.
“Any kind of friction or trauma to the skin causes the skin to blister and come off. Being out in the summertime is just not going to happen,” Anne Marie’s mother, Kandi Cox, told ABC News. “She can’t go to public pools or anything like that. She really has to be in a protected environment.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists aren’t sure of epidermolysis bullosa’s prevalence, but they estimate it affects 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 50,000 people.
Kandi said early fundraising efforts for the saltwater therapy pool fell short, but when Bethany decided to began to sell handmade rubber band bracelets through her Bracelets by Bethany Facebook page, she ended up raising more than $47,000 in only 19 weeks.
Anne Marie's parents said they could have never "even fathomed what this little girl could do."
According to ABC 8 News, Bethany’s philanthropic effort earned her a finalist spot for a national scholarship for community service sponsored by J.C. Penney and Izod. Now that Bethany raised enough money for Anne Marie, she’s taking the proceeds from her bracelet sales to fundraise for other causes.
Anne Marie stepped into her new saltwater pool for the first time in June.
“[The best part of the pool is] spending time with my family,” Anne Marie told the news station.