It is hard to believe a ten-year-old can accomplish so much in such a short life-span and it’s even harder to believe it can be done with half of a heart.
But if the military stands to prove anything, it is that courage and determination can accomplish anything.
Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer, the daughter of Army Major Steven Brewer, earned Operation Homefront’s 2016 Military Child of the Year award for the Army and her disability is likely the smallest reason for her nomination.
Young Brewer’s list of accomplishments looks more like what you would see on an Ivy League college application than a ten-year-old’s resume. The fact that she has undergone 21 medical procedures, including four open heart surgeries in her life, only makes it more impressive.
“After her third open heart surgery, Lorelei’s lungs collapsed and she started to literally drown in fluid surrounding her heart and lungs. After a long, grueling recovery, Lorelei survived her ordeal, but it changed her forever. At 5, she learned to sew in order to make compression heart pillows for pediatric open heart patients, aiding in their recovery from surgery. She named her organization Heart Hugs and it spread like wildfire.
Heart Hugs works with children’s hospitals, orphanages, and individual families to provide these pillows at no cost to the patient and family, utilizing the kindness of volunteers around the world to help Lorelei ensure no child is turned away. Lorelei was awarded Dr. Oz’s Every Day Health Hero in 2015 for her work with Heart Hugs, of which she is the founder and CEO. She was also recognized by Points of Light Foundation and received the Maryland Volunteerism Award for her creation of Heart Hugs.
Lorelei is a lifelong Girl Scout, receiving the highest distinction for a Junior Girl Scout, the Bronze Award, and has also been recognized as an Agent of Change. She participates in 4-H as club secretary, earned the Bronze Clover, and is a National Trend Spotter. She advocates for children with profound medical needs on behalf of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Ronald McDonald House, Brittany’s Hope, Susquehanna Service Dogs, Congenital Heart Information Network, and many other organizations.
Lorelei, who has a 4.0 grade point average, participates in the Single Ventricle Survivorship Program, the Cardiac Kids Developmental Follow-Up Program, and the Single Ventricle Revision Study Program.
Lorelei has endured seven military-related relocations and has experienced 36 months of her father’s deployment on top of her medical conditions. She has remained determined to make a difference.
Lorelei is not even thinking about slowing down. As she explained, “I am missing half of my heart and people sometimes think I can’t do anything, but I can.” And she does.”
Brewer’s mother, Chelle McIntyre-Brewer, has been by her side the every step of the way but has found herself spending more time fighting the medical companies obligated to helping her daughter than she does with her.
“My daughter has a terminal disease and I spend more hours out of my day fighting your incompetency and illegal practices than being able to spend with her,” she wrote in a Facebook post that has over 600 shares.
“TRICARE- you have failed us. U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)- you have failed us. Health Net Federal Services- you have failed us,” she wrote. “Humana- you are the worst dregs of humanity.”
She says the family has over $100,000 in medical bills because 97 medical claims are in review for payment.
“You send us rejections of benefits we have EARNED through literal BLOOD, SWEAT, and TEARS. YEARS of SEPARATION. DEATH, WOUNDS, TRAUMA,” she wrote.
“Look at this little girl. LOOK AT HER. She deserves better than this.”
Editor’s note: Army Major Brewer did not speak with Popular Military for the creation of this article.
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