GMC News

All In The Name Of Jake

December 3, 2002 – Brooke Heindel, an 11th grade student at GMC high school is a remarkable young lady. Since November 2000, she has put in more than 500 hours towards a cause that was created inside her own heart, Jake’s Animals. Soon after her younger brother, Jake, lost his battle with cancer (July 27, 2000), she and her family realized that Jake took great comfort in the numerous gifts he received during his 6-month stay in the hospital. Among those gifts were many stuffed animals, and when Jake was tired of the hospital environment, he would escape to an imaginary land with all of his new friends, often holding as many as could fit in his arms. Brooke said, “Jake’s ‘animal-time’ gave him a secure place away from all of the things that scared him. After Jake’s death, we wanted to do something to honor his memory, something that could help other children facing the distress of staying in the hospital, and I felt it was important that we use something that was special to Jake and could think of nothing better than stuffed animals.” Brooke has personally delivered about 3,000 stuffed animals, each thoughtfully donated by local school children and community members, to patients at local hospitals, and has developed a very special relationship with The Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon. Missi Upshaw, Development Officer for The Children’s Hospital, said, “There are not enough words to describe Brooke Heindel. Her commitment to ensure that every child that enters The Children’s Hospital receives a stuffed animal in memory of her brother, Jake, is just amazing and it means so much to the patients and their families. She not only is committed to Jake’s Animals, but she also selflessly volunteers in The Children’s Hospital to care for children during their hospital visit. Brooke is wise beyond her years, and is a wonderful role model for other young people.” Brooke aspires to help as many people as possible through Jake’s Animals and would like to challenge middle Georgia to join in donating to her beloved cause. Now through December 20th, she asks that schools, organizations and groups consider donating new stuffed animals (any size) in memory of Jake for the Jake’s Animals Toy Drive. To spur a friendly competition, Upshaw announced that the group donating the most stuffed animals will be invited to come to deliver them to the patients at The Children’s Hospital with Brooke, and will be featured on an upcoming radio-thon. Interested parties should contact Brooke via email, and she will arrange for picking up these precious gifts. Brooke says if she could express any point to young people, it would be this, “Put your heart and mind together and you can accomplish anything. No matter where in your life you may be, there is someone that needs your help.” Brooke Heindel is the daughter of Dr. & Mrs. Clark Heindel, and Juli & David Waddell of Milledgeville. She wants to attend the University of Georgia and hopes to serve as a manager for the football team. She has been the manager of the GMC high school and junior college football teams for two years. She plays first base for the GMC high school softball team, is a member of the color guard, and the assistant editor for the yearbook. She dreams of becoming a physical therapist and helping children recover from strokes. Given every thing that she’s accomplished thus far, there is no doubt Brooke will fulfill any and all of her dreams, all in the name of Jake.