by Dennis Dalman
A benefit in memory of BriAnna Kruzel was so successful that organizers were able to buy a new sound system for the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education Dance Program.
And there is still money left over in the BriAnna Kruzel Memorial Fund to help support other good causes that were dear to Kruzel’s heart in her young life before she died suddenly last year at age 18. On Sept. 28, 2013, BriAnna’s mother found her daughter face-down on the carpet of her bedroom. She had apparently died instantly, possibly of a rare heart arrhythmia. Her death, of course, devastated her family, friends and everyone who ever met her. She was the kind of girl who had what’s known as personality-plus: always smiling, always helpful, never judgmental.
BriAnna had been a student at St. Cloud Vocational College, taking general-education courses.
Her parents and others decided to raise money for BriAnna’s favorite causes: the dance program, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Girl Scouts, to name three. At a March 18 fundraiser hosted by the House of Pizza in Sartell and from other donations, a total of close to $13,000 has been raised. From that money, the sound system for the dance program was purchased. There will also be at least one “BriAnna Kruzel Scholarship” of $500 given to a deserving Sartell High School senior this year.
“It (the fundraiser) was just amazing,” said Tami Kruzel, BriAnna’s mother. “I want to thank the community for supporting the memory of BriAnna. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
Tami said she and others plan to raise more funds as time goes on, then they will donate for needs that BriAnna would’ve approved, she added.
“It’s bittersweet,” Tami said. “We’re so happy to be able to help her favorite causes, but yet she’s missed so much every day. There was no chance to say goodbye. She had such an upbeat attitude. Always smiling, always happy, never judging. I can feel her smiling down on us.”
Just last weekend, BriAnna received another posthumous honor when Big Brothers Big Sisters announced the first recipient of its new “BriAnna Kruzel Growing Up Award.” Parents Randy and Tami accepted the award on their daughter’s behalf during a ceremony at the River’s Edge Convention Center.
The night before they attended the dance program recital during which the new sound system was initiated. Dance director Shelly Teff thanked the Kruzels, who received warm applause. BriAnna had been an avid dancer in that program for many years. She was also an enthusiastic Girl Scout for 12 years.
It’s still possible to donate to the BriAnna Fund at any Wells Fargo bank. Or contributions can be sent to the BriAnna Kruzel Memorial Fund, 334 Pine Ridge Road, Sartell, MN 56377.contributed photo
Members of the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education Dance Team proudly display the new sound system, purchased with funds raised by supporters of BriAnna Kruzel. Kruzel, who was an avid dancer in the dance program, died tragically and suddenly at age 18 last fall. From left to right are (standing) dance director Shelly Teff, Mya Schwab, Emily Locnikar, Kayla Beam and Jessica Tunnell; (in front row) Aleah Schwab, Sofia Gohmann, Cali Schwab, Sadie Bauman and Dana Justin.