At age 15, Raeann Sleith of North Huntingdon already has contributed more to charity than many adults do in a lifetime.
Raeann, a freshman at Norwin High School, began making bracelets for fun when she was 6 and started selling them at age 7. So far, she has raised -- and donated -- more than $33,000 to a number of charities.
The inspiration for the bracelet sales is her brother Derek, 17, who was born in November 1995 with Cri du Chat syndrome.
The genetic disorder is caused by a deletion of genes on chromosome 5, which causes mental retardation, small head size, poor muscle tone and unusual facial features. Newborns with the syndrome have a mewing cry, which is why it is called Cri du Chat, a French term for "cat cry."
Derek, who is nonverbal, attends the Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children in Greensburg.
He plays on the junior basketball team there and baseball in the Police Athletic League Adaptive Baseball League, founded by Derek and Raeann's mother, Johnna Sleith.
Of the $33,000 Raeann has donated, she has given more than $30,000 to charities that benefit her brother, including Clelian Heights School; 5P- Society, a support group for families with a child with Cri du Chat; Autism Society of America, Westmoreland Chapter; and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
She also made 200 bracelets for the Reflections of Grace Foundation and has donated money to various cancer charities.
Raeann purchased four tracking devices for Project Lifesaver, which is based at Circleville Fire Department in North Huntingdon and provides tracking devices for special needs children that can be used to find them if they wander off.
She also helps coach in the adaptive baseball league, serves as a buddy during games and contributes about $1,000 per year to the league for special needs children and teens.
Raeann, who plays softball for Norwin High School and for the Elizabeth Renegades traveling softball team, would like to play softball in college and study marketing. She also wants to continue to raise as much money as possible for charity.
She makes black and gold Steelers, Pirates and Penguins bracelets; awareness bracelets with ribbon charms for Cri du Chat, breast cancer, leukemia, muscular dystrophy and other conditions; rosary and other religious bracelets; birthstone and loved one remembrance bracelets; and special order bracelets.
Raeann also has started to design necklaces.
For more information: 724-861-5655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: email@example.com.