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After battle with cancer, Arena teen makes Christmas special for other kids

The holiday season, as merry as it can be, is also a time of hardship for many families. One teen who knows what that is like is on a mission to make this Chris
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 9:37 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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ARENA, Wis. (WMTV) - The holiday season, as merry as it can be, is also a time of hardship for many families. One teen who knows what that is like is on a mission to make this Christmas special.

“Christmas is about giving. Christmas is about sharing and about caring,” 19-year-old Daphne Harrison said. “That was everything Jesus was.”

Harrison, from Arena, partnered with the Badger Childhood Cancer Network. For one of its winter programs, called “Adopt A Family,” she matched with a family in Dodgeville, raising $1400 to spend on them.

“I love to help out as much as I can with anything, but this always felt personal to me because the network helped me out so much when I was going through it. I feel like I was these kids once, and I know what it’s like,” she said.

Harrison learned she had leukemia at 14 years old and spent holidays at hospitals. She said, “It felt like everyone else was getting to be a kid and you’re over here doing this. That was probably the hardest part.”

When Christmas came around, she was on the receiving end of the Adopt A Family program. “In such a down, even depressing time in your life, it was something to look forward to,” she said.

Spending the last two years in remission, Harrison is now paying it forward. This year, she matched with a family in Dodgeville.

At six months old, Tucker Brugger has cancer. He was diagnosed at six weeks.

“It’s just so heartbreaking, especially for such a baby,” Harrison said.

Harrison is not only showering him with presents but also with prayer. She said she wanted to let him know, “I really just pray that this Christmas, that everything I got you makes it a great Christmas for you and that you enjoyed it.”

In a thank-you letter to be delivered to Harrison, Tucker’s dad Mark Brugger wrote and shared with NBC15, “We can’t thank you enough for all the gifts you’ve given our family. Your generosity has shown us love and support during a time when we really needed it.”

According to Susannah Peterson, BCCN executive director, more than 200 people received gifts from donors through the Adopt A Family program. The program identifies some of the network’s neediest families, matching them with donors.

BCCN also helps children year-round, offering help with finances, transportation and social support.

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