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12-year-old hero raises thousands of dollars for Colorado kids in the hospital

annabelle rusco
Posted at 3:08 PM, Jun 08, 2021

JOHNSTOWN, Colo. -- By all accounts, Annabelle Rusco could teach most of us a thing or two about philanthropy, and even more about dreaming big.

“This year we want to make the overall total to $30,000, hopefully, which wouldn’t be that much of a jump, actually,” Annabelle said.

Three years ago, she started Annabelle’s Annual Children’s Hospital Stand. With the help of her little sister, they made and peddled bracelets, sugar scrubs and raffle baskets to benefit kids at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“It has been such a pleasure getting to know Annabelle,” said Kelly Hercher, Senior Manager of Annual Giving at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “She has such a passion for helping kids who are sick or battling cancer or mental health.”

If anyone can relate, it’s the Johnstown 12-year-old. Annabelle was born with a rare and painful genetic disease that causes bony tumors to grow in her body. So far, she’s had nine surgeries to remove them.

“Back in 2018, I had to have three surgeries and I had to stay in-patient because it was a hip surgery. So during that time, it was only two days, but I saw a lot of kids who were worse off in the hospital. So yeah, that’s kind of where it all started,” Annabelle said.

Her first year in business, Annabelle raised $1,800. Neighbor Lawrence Nee was so impressed, his company, Larch Industry, decided to match it.

“It’s like, holy cow, if she’s that selfless, this is the least we can do,” Nee said.

At the time, Nee had no idea his young son would end up at Children’s Hospital Colorado for severe seizures.

“We had found out, I think it was a year and a half ago, around the November timeframe, that he had a condition called ESES … sorry,” Nee said, fighting back tears.

Nee went onto say if it weren’t for those doctors at Children’s, they may never have found a treatment. So, Annabelle’s effort, a kid caring so much for kids she’s never met, is such a gift.

“This year, I guess half’s going to the neurology department,” Nee said. “Which means a lot for our family.”

To date, Annabelle has raised more than $18,000. This year, she wants to double that.

“It doesn’t seem real, honestly. Like, I would’ve never thought when I started this up that it would become as big as it’s become. It’s really cool,” Annabelle said.

Annabelle's fourth annual stand is Saturday June 12 in Johnstown. To make an online donation visit her website: annabellestand.org

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.