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Fundraiser inspires kinship of children with same rare condition

(Courtesy of Leah Hullinger & Jessica Morton)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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VERNAL — After seeing an article about a Salt Lake City boy with bladder exstrophy holding a fundraiser for others with the same condition, a Vernal girl also suffering from it decided to join his efforts, and the two plan to meet Saturday.

Vernal resident Clint Morton said his daughter, Brooklyn, was born with bladder exstrophy, an abnormality of the formation of the bladder that leaves it exposed on the abdominal wall, according to the John Hopkins Children’s Center. Now Brooklyn is 6 years old and Morton said his family had been wanting to “do more” to fundraise and raise awareness for the rare condition.

Morton said he recently saw a news article about 7-year-old Mick Hullinger who decided to hold a fundraiser to raise money for a 5-year-old girl in Uganda to have a similar operation to the surgery he’s having in June for his bladder exstrophy. The surgery costs around $15,000, according to the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community.

“When we saw that we thought, ‘You know this is perfect,’ ” Morton said. “We let them know, ‘You know we want to do some fundraising out here to help you guys out.’ ”

Mick’s mother, Leah Hullinger, said that before the fundraiser, he had mentioned that he felt different because he didn’t know anyone with bladder exstrophy.

“So that’s kind of where this fundraiser came about… I think that helping others is always healing,” Hullinger said.

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The Hullingers held an art show pop-up shop fundraiser on May 2 in Salt Lake City and raised $$6,750. At the end of the fundraiser, Hullinger said the pop-up shop owners, Big Cartel, surprised them by matching the proceeds with a donation, bringing their total to over $13,501.

The Hullingers also held an Instagram auction on May 9 and auctioned off the rest of the art, raising an additional $2,000 and exceeding their goal.

“It totally has exceeded what I had hoped,” Hullinger said.

Brooklyn and her family held several bake sales around Vernal, as well as an online bake sale, and raised around $1,000. Morton said they plan to take the money to the Hullinger family on Saturday, giving Mick and Brooklyn an opportunity to meet.

“It has been amazing,” Hullinger said. “From the KSL article, we have connected with four different families (who have someone with bladder exstrophy) ... We are connecting as a community ... So it’s really exciting.”

Hullinger said she plans to make the fundraiser an annual event and is creating a website and Instagram account. She said the doctors are currently planning the surgery for 5-year-old Allimena in Uganda.

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Faith Heaton Jolley

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