By Nick Pellegrino, East County Sports
December 17, 2012 (El Cajon) —Just like all of her classmates, Brittany Wnek grew up going to school, participating in a variety of school activities and sports -- just being an everyday kid.
Then one day she found her life consumed with hospital appointments, CT scans and MRI's, chemo, radiation and many surgeries.
"Brittany was playing volleyball, basketball and soccer with her friends," said Barb Wnek, Brittany's mother and longtime volleyball coach formerly at Point Loma Nazarene University for 17 years. "Then everyone in the community found out one way or another that Brittany had a serious illness."
Along with regular treatment at Rady Children’s Hospital and the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, the family has traveled to Texas and New York seeking solutions for her rare disease called mastocytosis, a disease characterized by the presence of too many mast cells in various organs and tissues.
In Brittany's case, the Mast cells collect and form tumors which have become destructive to bones in her skull, spine and pelvis. Originally,Brittany was diagnosed when she was just 12, after she underwent a CT scan that revealed a tumor behind her left ear. She recently spent more than two months in the hospital undergoing major surgeries and some setbacks, but Brittany was finally able to go home in time to celebrate her 17th birthday.
"We have so many people praying Brittany through these ongoing battles-- we believe in the power of prayer. We are thankful," add the mother “It has been a challenging journey but the family continues to seek answers, and pursue treatment.”
With Brittany unable to start school this past fall, her athletic career was put on hold at Christian High School. Gaby Grabowski, one of her teammates, spoke with her parents because she wanted to do something special for Britt, and the Grabowski family went into action.
John and Gabriela Grabowski, owners of Aztecas Design, recently hosted a Holiday Craft Fair at their business located at 435 W. Bradley Ave., in El Cajon. Aztecas Design imports Mexican hand-blown glassware products nationally for the restaurant industry.The company is offering exclusive, custom-crafted glassware, including pitchers drinking glasses, margarita glasses, Christmas ornaments and more decorative items, for a minimum donation.
At the fair, 100% of the purchase price on all sales from Aztecs Design will go to benefit Brittany Wnek.The fair will also include a variety of craft vendors and food items, plus the SMCC praise band will perform.
Brittany’s volleyball coach, Debbie Larsen, and Brittany’s volleyball teammates are also gathering to assist with the Holiday Craft Fair, which will benefit Brittany with the on-going costs associated with her treatments.
"We have received so much support through our school, community, church, and from family and friends across the country." said Brittany's mother."We know many families which are in this same position. “
Added Mike, Brittany’s father, “All of the families at Rady's become close because we're all facing similar struggles -- hospital life, seeking a cure for our children and financial challenges.”
According to Gabriela Grabowski, "Everyone loves Brittany so much, and so we gladly want to step forward and help her. We believe there are many businesses in our community who can make an impact in the lives of families in our community.”
Aztecas Design, 435 West Bradley Ave., El Cajon.
Phone: (619) 442-5530.
Online: Go to FiftyforBrittany.com for information on the “Do 50 for Brittany” campaign. It’s an opportunity to do 50 of something in support of the Wnek family’s efforts to meet the expenses encountered in Brittany’s battle.