Sadie Cook had the rare ability to brighten up a room when she entered. These are the words of a proud older sister.
Last November, however, very suddenly and unexpectedly, Savanna Finch-Bratton and several family members and friends saw their world go dark as Cook died of what was later discovered to be a bronchial asthma attack brought on by an undiscovered allergy.
“She’d just turned 20 in September. She never showed any signs or symptoms of illness before. She just had an asthma attack and we still have no idea how it could have happened. It was very spur of the moment,” Finch-Bratton explained.
Cook, a graduate of Gleason High School and a marketing major at UT Martin, died on Nov. 7, 2010. Her twin brother, Stephen, was on his way to Iraq when he was called back for the funeral. Also on hand was half-sister Jessica, mom Jan Vaughn and dad Steve Cook.
Nearly one year later, Finch-Bratton was working at a daycare center in Martin, where her sister also once worked, when the light was turned on again – this time, in the form of a big idea.
“I talked to a friend and I said it’s nearly been a year (since Sadie’s death) and we need to do something. We can all work together to make sure we honor Sadie’s memory and make sure nothing like this happens again and everything materialized from there,” Finch-Bratton said.
What materialized was the Sadie Saves charity organization with a goal of providing money for EpiPens and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for area people who are in need of the life-saving devices. An EpiPen is a syringe-like device that can quickly inject medicine at the onset of an allergic reaction.
“Had we known about this allergy, Sadie could have had an EpiPen which may have saved her life,” Finch-Bratton wrote in a flyer advertising the charity’s first fundraiser.
“We will never know if Sadie owning an EpiPen would have saved her life, but we can help raise awareness to this cause as well as help provide those in need with one. My little sister is gone forever, but I want her memory to live on with the help of this charity.”
On Nov. 5, the charity will hold its first fundraising event at the Gleason Gazelle grounds. Cook was an avid runner, so there will be a 5K along with a fall festival and all money raised will be placed into an account at the Bank of Gleason. The account will pay for EpiPens for area people and AED machines for local fire departments and rescue squads as well as paying for the training fees.
Churches in the community will prepare baked goods and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and drinks will be sold. Live music will be provided by Leavin’ Sunday and there will be games, prizes, entertainment, a cake walk, auction, face painting and a corn hole tournament. Finch-Bratton is a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon business fraternity and all of the members will be present to help at the event.
Starting at 3 p.m., the 5K will be held at a cost of $18 to enter and $5 for the kids’ fun run with a free T-shirt offered and prizes in different age categories.
“We’ve contacted most of the doctors in the area and the money we have raised will be placed in an account,” Finch-Bratton explained. “If a nearby patient needs money for an EpiPen – they cost about $110 each – we will be able to get the money out of the account and take it to the pharmacy the person uses.”
Anyone wanting to help is urged to contact Finch-Bratton at 514-1139 or Vaughn at (731) 694-1574. Checks can be made payable to Sadie Saves Charity and messages can be left on the Facebook page.
And this is only the beginning. Finch-Bratton hopes to make this an annual event to take place every early November to honor her sister, the one who “brought fun to any situation,” was “a good girl who always went to church” and was “the one who everyone loved to be around.”
That love can now be extended to brightening and saving lives all over the community.