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Gavin's family receives hundreds of letters
Gavin's family receives hundreds of letters: Gavin Lawrey's struggle with mitochondrial disease touched the hearts of News-Press readers and many sent envelopes containing heart-felt notes, cards and even checks to the family's Cape Coral home.
Gavin Lawrey, 5, heads back towards the house with his arms full of letters after checking the mail with mom Brandi on Monday in Cape Coral. The Lawreys have received dozens of checks, cards and hand-written notes from people touched by Gavin's struggle with mitochondrial disease. / Sarah Coward/The News-Press
Gavin is surrounded by letters containing checks, handwritten notes and cards after his story was told in The News-Press.

HOW TO HELP

To reach Lynda Moritz at Sellstate Priority Realty to donate toward the house, email Lyndamoritz@gmail.com or call 898-3161 or 574-8888.
To mail a donation, make the check payable to Gavin Lawrey and send to 147 SE 19th Lane, Cape Coral, FL 33990. To reach out to the Lawreys, email Brandi at MomLawrey@yahoo.com. The links for the fundraising websites are indiegogo.com/projects/help-gavin-lawrey-s-family-save-their-home and giveforward.com/fundraiser/z842/hopeforgavin
Caloosa Elementary School is planning “Hope for Mito,” a walk-a-thon to benefit Gavin’s medical trust fund. For information, email Angela Harbison at angeladh@leeschools.net. Cape Coral cartoonist Phil Rood drew a picture of Hershey and other illustrations to sell online for the Lawreys. His website is PhilRood.com.

Brandi Lawrey comforts her son Gavin, who has mitochondrial disease, after a seizure in January. Since Gavin's plight was told in The News-Press, the family has received almost $40,000 toward Gavin's medical trust fund. / Photos by Sarah Coward/The News/Press

More

Click here for the complete story on our special Gavin page

In the same mailbox that a little girl once sent letters to God arrived a flood of responses.

First three, then 55. Then 57 letters filled the plastic tan box with green ribbons. The envelopes were directed to 5-year-old Gavin Lawrey, his 8-year-old sister Makenzie, mom, Brandi and dad, Jeff.

Gavin’s story has touched people across Southwest Florida, the U.S. and even into Canada.

In a week and a half since the two-day series, A Spark of Hope, ran in The News-Press telling of the family’s struggles and joys raising a sick child, the Lawreys have received almost $40,000 toward Gavin’s medical trust fund. Gavin was diagnosed with an incurable mitochondrial disease last year.

Amounts ranged from $5 to $5,000. It hasn’t stopped. This month, Gavin and Makenzie will enjoy time with a local therapy pony, meet “Dunk City” — also known as the FGCU basketball team — at team co-captain Sherwood Brown’s invitation, and Gavin will train as an honorary fireman for a day at a Cape Coral fire station.

Packages contained treats for Hershey, the seizure-alert dog, photo and fashion books, gift cards for Amazon and restaurants. A sticky-note on a $100 check read, “For Mac and Cheese,” Gavin’s favorite food and $50 meant specifically to buy something special for Makenzie. Some cards contained donations, prayers and words of encouragement.

“Overwhelmed,” Jeff said. “It’s overwhelming the support we’ve gotten from the community.”

The Lawrey family sees God at work, calling their blessings “God winks.”

It seems God has been winking a lot lately.

Sellstate Priority Realty, the Cape Coral company whose employees adopted the family over Christmas, has been trying to help save their home. Jeff and Brandi owe about $220,000 on a house worth $80,000. They received a foreclosure notice in October after they stopped paying their mortgage to cover their son’s medication.

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Lynda Moritz, director of business development at Sellstate, is coordinating with donors to raise funds and buy the family a new home. They’re planning to short sell the one they’re in. She has an account open in Gavin’s name at IberiaBank and is challenging others to give.

“My cast of characters at Sellstate affectionately says I’m like a pit bull, I can’t let it go until it gets accomplished,” Moritz said of the house. “This is something I guarantee you will happen. It’s not a dream. There’s no small amount. Every dollar counts.”

Brandi has cried every day as she opened every letter. She’s responded to every email and recorded names and addresses to send thank-you notes.

She struggles with the donations, feeling that there are people who need this more. But in her head are the words of one donor, “Not even the Coast Guard can stop a tsunami. This is just to help you get on your feet.”

“The small donations touched me because it reminded me of us and how we give,” she said. “It broke my heart when people apologized saying they wish they could send more. I want them to know how much I appreciated it. The amount doesn’t determine the value.”

And then there was the tall, thin man with gray hair and kind, light eyes.

He arrived in a white vehicle about 9:30 a.m. one morning last week. He was crying before Brandi, still in her pajamas, even answered the door.

“Are you the mother of the boy in the paper?” he asked. “I have something for you.” He handed her an envelope with $100.

Gavin had a rough night twitching and shaking. But he walked by his mother and the man, offered a smile and said, “Hey Mister, how you doing?”

The man sobbed harder and gave him a hug. Before he turned to walk away, he gave Brandi a piece of advice.

He told her he knows this must be difficult. That she must be really overwhelmed, but it’s time the community stepped up to help hardworking families like theirs.

Holding her face in his trembling hands, he kissed her on the forehead.

To see previous stories go to news-press.com/gavin. There you can find photos, videos and more.

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