by Dennis Dalman
Even though BriAnna Kruzel of Sartell died suddenly two years ago at age 18, her vivacious, outgoing and giving personality continues to inspire others in countless ways.
Kruzel collapsed one day in her bedroom and died on Sept. 28, 2013, a death that was ruled “natural causes,” likely an undiagnosed heart problem. Her death was utterly devastating to those who knew and loved her.
But in the aching absence, family and friends rallied to keep her good deeds and memory alive through charitable works, including fundraising to buy needed items for the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Dance program, two $500 scholarships for Sartell High School students, the Fabric for Scarves program and many other smaller donations. Kruzel loved the dance program and was a widely honored member of Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was a tireless volunteer for a variety of good programs.
And now, her life, her memory has inspired another socially connective good cause: an Angel of Hope project.
Currently, members of the foundation dubbed “What Would Bri Do?” are raising funds to install a “Christmas Box Angel of Hope” at the edge of Lake Francis in the Town Square development in south Sartell. The project will cost about $20,000. A major fundraiser is set for March 15, and more details will be announced later. In the meantime, Angel of Hope organizers are hoping people will donate anything they can via www.WWBDinc.org (click on Donate).
The Angel of Hope will be installed on its massive pedestal, possibly in a restful lakeside park that will be paved and equipped with greenery, benches and perhaps a fountain or two. The sculpture is of a dazzling angel, its wings spread, its face gazing heavenward. It is meant to be a focus and a reminder of children and young adults who died tragically, all too early, as Kruzel did.
The “Angel of Hope” movement was inspired by a bestselling 1993 novel by Richard Paul Evans and its TV movie version entitled A Christmas Box. One of its scenes is of a woman mourning the loss of her young child at the base of an angel monument. Currently, there are at least 150 “Angel of Hope” monuments in the United States, with the first one having been erected in Salt Lake City, Utah. Typically, those who lost young children gather at the angels one day each year to place a white flower at the statue/monument during a candlelight memorial vigil.
In Minnesota, there are “Angels of Hope” in Duluth, Fergus Falls, Maple Grove, Perham, Spicer and Virginia and – soon to be, hopefully – Sartell.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.