Like plenty of other fifth-grade boys, Brandon Kelly likes basketball, football and bouncy slides.
He also likes pink.
After breaking his right wrist while playing football, Brandon decided to pull the positive out of the pain. Sporting a bright pink cast to St. Kieran School every day, Brandon found a creative way to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
"I’ve been seeing all the football players wear pink, and the pink ribbons around trees at my house," Brandon said, sitting on a couch in the principal's office. "When I was getting this cast on, I told my mom, 'I wish there was a way every signature could be a donation.'"
Ideas soon became reality and Brandon was wearing a sleeve of signatures, many of which came with helpful donations toward breast cancer research. As of last Thursday, Brandon had accumulated $420.31, a number he read off a tiny slip of paper retrieved from his pocket. He'll donate the money to the Jennifer S. Fallick Cancer Support Center in Homewood Tuesday.
"My mom’s real proud of me," Brandon said. "She’s like, ‘Thank you for doing this. You’re going to help so many people.’ My dad said, ‘You’re doing a good deed right now.’"
Mom and dad aren't the only people proud of Brandon.
"I think it’s incredible," said St. Kieran Principal Anthony Simone. "That’s what you run a school for. Everyone talks about the education. It’s the service that is important. How do you serve a community? How do you take care of others that are less fortunate? How do you minister to people in pain? That’s an awesome example."
Brandon grabbed plenty of signatures for his cast, but there's one he felt the need to point out. "That's my uncle's right there," he said, pointing toward the middle of a sea of Sharpie ink.
Brandon's uncle, Dennis Kelly, an offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, cut his teeth as a football player on the field at St. Kieran. He played his first NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Brandon got to fly to Philly to see his uncle play.
"I remember when I was little," Brandon said. "I would come to all my uncle’s games, and I thought, 'This is kind of cool. I want to play.'"
Much like the love for sports, the need to give back runs strong in the Kelly family, according to Simone. Dennis and his brothers, Tim and Brian, try to come back and visit St. Kieran as often as possible, getting involved with everything from Halloween parties to spaghetti dinners.
"That’s a remarkable thing, because they’re young men with huge futures and yet you see them wanting to come back and contribute," Simone said. "As outstanding as they are coaches and athletes, they’re more outstanding people."
As for Brandon, he's not accustomed to being the Kelly that gets media attention. As he stood in Simone's office holding a photo of his uncle Dennis, Brandon's aunt, Colleen Russell, smiled and said, "Now it’s going to be Brandon Kelly, and his sidekick Dennis."
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