by Dennis Dalman
BriAnna Kruzel will never die – at least not in spirit – not if her family, friends and many supporters have anything to do about it.
At the age of 18, in 2013, the young Sartell woman collapsed from natural causes at her home suddenly and could not be revived. Her sad and tragic death sent waves of shock and sorrow through those who knew and loved her.
To honor BriAnna for her long-time activity in giving back to others, her family has started a non-profit called “What Would Bri Do Inc.”
A second annual fundraising event for that fund will take place from 4-10 p.m. Saturday, March 14 at the House of Pizza in Sartell. This year’s activities will include a silent auction that will be awarded starting at 9 p.m., a bucket raffle ending at 10 p.m., a Kona beer sampling and a $12 endless-pizza buffet with a portion of all sales going to WWBD.
Last year, WWBD was able to donate more than $6,000 to many local organizations and individuals, including a sound system for the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education Foundation for its dance program; two $500 scholarships for Sartell High School students; and many other smaller donations to people in some kind of need.
This year, WWBD is working with Big Brothers Big Sisters to start a partnership scholarship. The partnership will work with the City of Sartell to install benches in Huntington Park next to a tree planted in BriAnna’s memory by the Girl Scouts. Two scholarships will again be given to students in memory of BriAnna.
Organizers of the fundraiser are still seeking donations of auction and raffle items or other contributions. To donate anything, email information to info.@WWBDinc.org or call Tami Kruzel at 320-492-4691. To make a donation, go to www.WWBDinc.org.
Donations can also be mailed to “What Would Bri Do Inc.” at 334 Pine Ridge Road, Sartell MN 56377.
Who is BriAnna?
BriAnna Kruzel was a young woman who loved taking part in Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters and programs offered through Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education.
In 2013, she was honored as the “High School Big Sister of the Year” and received a Youth Appreciation Award through the St. Cloud Optimist Club for her hard work with the BBBS organization. Last year, in BriAnna’s memory, BBBS of Central Minnesota established the annual “BriAnna Kruzel Growing Up Big Award.” The purpose of the award is to honor an outstanding former BBBS member who demonstrated service to the “community, character and integrity.” The spirit of the award is to carry on the legacy of kindness and generosity BriAnna exemplified in her short but rewarding life.
“We honor the memory of BriAnna by striving always to be kind, helpful and compassionate,” the award philosophy states. “We lend an ear to a person who needs it, to help our community in any way or simply to offer a reassuring smile to brighten someone’s day. We try to love others without judgment and remember to be a force for positivity in the world.”
That philosophy, say those who knew her, are exactly the words and deeds BriAnna Kruzel put into action.