By Robert Boyd
TAMPA, Florida (WFTS) — Taylor Swift fans are known for exchanging friendship bracelets during her concerts. So one Tampa “Swiftie” decided to take that idea and apply it to Tampa General Hospital.
“So my mom and my brother were actually both patients here; my brother had a kidney transplant, and my mom was actually his donor,” said 15-year-old Avery Ranieri. “I remember my dad taking me out here to the rose garden, and I would lay in the grass and take naps, and as much as this is Evan’s journey and my mom’s journey, it is my whole family’s journey.”
Her brother Evan was only two years old at the time of the transplant, while Avery was just five. She remembers the countless hours spent in the hospital, waiting.
“I know these days can be long in the hospital, and just to give people something to do, like I know how if Evan got something, it would brighten his day, and I just want to do that for other people,” said Avery.
Then, while at a Taylor Swift concert in Tampa earlier this year, Avery got an idea, friendship bracelets.
“Part of the idea is that nurses and patients and staff can all trade the bracelets,” said Avery.
So Avery got busy putting together kits full of beads with a variety of different themes.
“So there was a Bucs category, a Lightning category, we had Barbie, Taylor Swift,” said Avery.
“That’s why these bracelets are kind of for any age to enjoy; it takes your mind off things, and it brings a positive influence,” said Avery.
She went on to make 100 kits for the patients of TGH, and they were such a success she’s been making them ever since
She calls them Banded Together.
“It’s really important to me as a parent that Avery and Evan both understand that they have the ability to use his story to impact and influence others,” said mother, Melissa Ranieri.
“I’ve gotten emails with pictures of people of all ages with the bracelets on, I know the people of Volunteer Services were grateful that I could do something like this and someone would put in the time and the effort,” said Avery.
Unit Coordinator Amanda Caban saw firsthand the difference the bracelets made with one of their senior patients.
“She helped me put the letters together, and the smaller beads I beaded for her, and she was so excited to put them on, she walked around and showed the staff, it was so sweet and beautiful I was very appreciative,” said Caban.
As for Evan, he didn’t quite understand his sister’s mission at first.
“I’m not into Taylor Swift,” said Evan.
However, he’s so proud of the difference she is making.
“I appreciate the bracelets and what the cause is and helping other people,” said Evan.
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