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One Little Girl Makes Sure Her Sister’s Memory Lives On

Seven-year-old Hannah Murphy (left) from Milford and her cousin Natalie Garland set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for the My One Wish Foundation in memory of Hannah's sister Rachel. Murphy family photo

A seven-year-old Milford girl honored the memory of her older sister while helping to make the wishes of another child come true by raising funds for the My One Wish Foundation of Milford.

This past July, Hannah Murphy asked her parents if she could have a lemonade stand in her driveway to sell lemonade and goodies. Hannah's mom Elisa Murphy said that when they asked her what she wanted to do with the money, Hannah did not hesitate. "She wanted to raise the money for My One Wish because they helped Rachel," said Murphy.

Rachel is Hannah's older sister, who passed away unexpectedly in October of 2012 at the age of 13. Rachel was born with Heterotaxy syndrome, a rare birth defect that involves the heart and other organs. After multiple surgeries as a baby and toddler, Rachel was left unable to walk or talk and experienced multiple seizures every day; but not as her family said, without the ability to communicate. "She was such a happy kid, and she let you know when she was happy about something and when she wasn't," said Murphy. When talking about her sister, Hannah quickly pointed out that one of Rachel's favorite things in the world was Hannah herself, but admitted she also loved snuggling and Mexican food. Hannah said that some of her favorite memories of her sister were when they went bowling together.

Because of Rachel's condition, the My One Wish Foundation planned to grant the family's wish of a trip to Disney World. My One Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses; wishes such as trips, sporting events, and even the ability to meet with celebrities. The trip for the Murphy family was planned for November of 2012, but Rachel passed away in October, just weeks before the wish was to be granted.

Although Rachel did not get to go on the trip, the My One Wish foundation left a lasting impression on her sister, Hannah. "They are great. They help people grant their wishes," she said. So Hannah went about setting up a lemonade stand to try to raise $25 for other children to receive wishes. Hannah teamed up with her cousin Natalie Garland to make homemade lemonade and goodies, create posters, and get change for their customers.

What the girls didn't realize is that they far underestimated their goal, raising over $500 in just two hours. "I was blown away," said Hannah's dad Frank, of the amount of money the girls raised through sales and donations. Friends, family members, and even teachers and classmates of both Rachel and Hannah came out on that hot July day for the special lemonade, which was made a little sweeter by Hannah's motivation.

This September, Hannah presented the check to My Own Wish President and Co-Founder, Virginia Brenna and Wish Coordinator, Dottie Beksha at their office in downtown Milford. "I was so surprised," said Brenna. "That a little kid would think to do something like this; I never expected it, but it was very much appreciated," she said. Brenna said that the money would go directly to help grant another child's wish.

The Murphy's said that they received help from numerous sources, and were especially thankful to both My One Wish, and to Julie Atherton and Peter Vignone of Milford Hardwood Floors who had donated iPads to the girls last year. "Even though Rachel didn't get her trip, she loved that iPad, she used it daily to was a big help," said Murphy.

Hannah said that it felt "really good" to give the money to the My One Wish Organization. "It's going to help other people get their wish," she said. To the surprise of her parents, Hannah also said that she plans on making the lemonade stand fundraiser an annual tradition, an announcement that her parents said made them "very proud." "She is a pretty spectacular kid; we are very lucky," said Murphy.


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