Updated: July 05, 2020 10:48 PM
Created: July 02, 2020 04:06 PM
As an unusual school year wrapped up at Blaine High School, choir students and a math teacher made a powerful connection centered around 6-year-old Andrew Dorsing.
Andrew died in July 2019 of heart complications. He was teacher Beth Dorsing's son.
"His heart wouldn’t work anymore and he passed away," Dorsing said. "There's not a moment of the day that goes by where Andrew doesn't enter my mind."
He'd been in and out of the hospital since birth, but during his final stay he had become fearful of things like IV changes and bandage removal, so his family created a bravery bag with surprise toys inside.
"In the beginning, it would take like an hour for the nurse to convince him to have his IV flushed, and finally after the bravery bag — like a couple of days later — he was like, 'Can I have an extra IV flush? Can you do this again and I can get something from the bag?'" Dorsing said.
"It just changed his entire experience being there and he was asking for extra procedures," she added.
The bravery bag became Andrew's Bravery Box for other hospitalized children.
"The nursing staff knows that it’s there, and they can use it as an incentive to get patients to cooperate," Dorsing said. "Families know that it’s there so the families can use it, too."
It was a mission the Blaine High School Concert Choir wanted to support, and they asked Dorsing, a musician, to sing with them in honor of Andrew.
"We worked really hard and we created parts and we were ready to go and then COVID-19 hit," Sue Zemlin, Blaine High School Choir Director Sue Zemlin said.
Their planned concert to raise awareness and donations for Andrew's Bravery Box didn't happen, so the pairing went virtual, singing one of Andrew's favorite songs, "Believer" by Imagine Dragons.
"That would be the song that he would request on the way to and from the hospital. That would be the song we were singing when he was having a hard time dealing with things," his mom shared.
To make the virtual concert work, each student had to record their part in a quiet spot. For some that was inside a car, for others in a laundry room at 2 a.m.
"They were pretty excited when they saw it," Zemlin said. "I don’t think they had any idea what it would end up looking like and sounding like."
With the one-year anniversary of Andrew's death on July 9, 2020, the collaboration has helped the Dorsing family heal.
"For me, working on this song and singing the words and imagining him singing this with me in the car rides with him belting it out in the backseat, it does bring a sense of healing and it brings comfort," Dorsing said.
The project also helped a high school choir end its year with purpose.
"We lost the opportunity to get a freewill offering at a concert to help Andrew's Bravery Box, and we really want the video to help substitute for that opportunity," Zemlin said.
To date, several of Andrew's Bravery Boxes have been placed around Children's Hospital, and more than 1,000 toys have been donated.
The Dorsing family would love to see pictures and hear feedback from families who have used Andrew's Bravery Boxes.
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