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9-Year-Old Starts Business to Help Friend with 'Butterfly' Disease

Anne Marie and Bethany/Facebook

The Short of It

Bethany Walker may be "just" a little girl, but she has already helped a friend with a rare skin condition, in a very big way.

The Lowdown

"You're never too little or too young to make a difference," 9-year-old Bethany says about her business, Bracelets by Bethany, which raised an astonishing $47,000 in just 19 weeks.

Bethany's goal was to raise money for her best friend Anne Marie Cox, who suffers from epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a painful, rare skin condition that results in blisters and tears from friction or trauma. Kids with EB are often called "butterfly children" because their condition makes them as fragile as the thin-winged creature. Anne Marie can't go to school on a regular basis due to her illness.

Even Bethany's mom admits the rubber band bracelets her daughter began selling were a "sweet" project she only expected to raise a few hundred dollars. But the little girl was determined to help Ann Marie's family afford a saltwater pool, one of the few therapies that helps with the pain from EB.

Her diligent fund-raising at restaurants and local businesses, as well as her efforts on Facebook, enabled the Cox family to break ground on their new pool, and soon thereafter, celebrate with a pool party, which also marked Anne Marie's first-ever swim.

The Upshot

Anne Marie's mom is grateful for the pool because she says it allows her daughter to feel like a normal little girl.

"Anne cannot go out outside and ride a bicycle. She cannot jump rope or roller skate. But now she can spend time with her family and friends and swim without it causing harm to her. It is so much more than a swimming pool. It is really life-changing for this child and for our family," explains Kandi, who adopted Anne Marie after finding out about her condition.

As for Bethany, she isn't done with her fund-raising efforts. She hopes to help a family of a little boy named Riley, who passed away from cancer recently. Bethany's kind acts have also earned her a nomination for a college scholarship for dedication to community service.

It's hard to imagine someone more deserving.

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