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Cincinnati parents dedicate themselves to 'adopting' Make-a-Wish kids in daughter's memory

Posted at 12:10 AM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 10:01:39-04

Dani Brosious believed in the power of a wish, her mother said Sunday night. The NKU grad always told her friends and family to make one when the clock hit 11:11 — sometimes pointing it out verbally, sometimes screenshotting the time on her phone and sending it out via Snapchat.

A full year after her improbable death, her mother and father are raising money to grant children’s wishes in her name.

“If we can give back in her honor, then we’re willing to do pretty much whatever,” her father, Dave Kelsey, said.

Brosious was 27 years old and newly married at the time of her death in September 2019. She was jogging in Spring Grove Cemetery with her mother and a family friend when lightning struck the group.

Only her mother, Mary Kelsey, would survive. Brosious and the family friend, 55-year-old city worker Patricia Herlinger, died of their injuries.

“She’s just too good,” a former classmate said of Brosious at the time. “It’s just an accident that I can’t blame anything on, and it’s just terrible timing of the whole thing. It’s just unfair.”

Struggling to cope in the aftermath, Mary and Dave Kelsey began making and distributing “kindness cards” — small cards decorated with a picture of Dani and a message urging the recipient to perform an act of kindness in her memory, then pass the card on.

When they reached their 1,111th card, it felt like more than a coincidence to Mary, she said. She knew she needed to do something special with it.

So she and Dave decided to perform their own act of kindness and cover the cost of a “wish” granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which provides special experiences to severely ill children. Each child’s wish — which might be a celebrity visit, a vacation or a hoped-for experience — costs the nonprofit thousands of dollars.

The Kelseys set up a campaign page on Make-a-Wish’s website, hoping to raise $10,000 — enough to cover a single wish in honor of their daughter.

By Sunday, they’d raised $45,000.

“A lot of the people who donated, we don’t even know who they are,” Dave Kelsey said. “So I assume it’s someone that Dani knows, and that, to me, is just so heartwarming that somebody remembers her or thinks so much of her to donate a monetary amount to a cause they think is good.”

The family hopes to raise even more in Brosious’ memory. A full year after her death, her father said her presence is still all around them.

“I think it’s Dani from Heaven as her spirit, moving the chess pieces around, saying, ‘This is what we’re doing, and I’m OK with it.’”

Anyone who would like to contribute to the family’s campaign can do so at this link.