Southern Door 5th grader raises money for CP Telethon


STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A Southern Door 5th grader who has been helped through the CP Telethon is giving back to the Cerebral Palsy Center.

On Saturday, Tatiana Bessley made her way through downtown Sturgeon Bay to collect donations. Southern Door supports the CP Telethon through fundraising in the winter, but the group decided to get a head start.

“I wanted to do it while it was warm yet, so I contacted the school, and they said we could do it early,” said caretaker Lynn Burlo. “In January, February and March, it’s too cold, and her immune system isn’t strong enough to handle the cold weather.”

Tatiana has a rare birth defect called schizencephaly.

“They explained it to me like she’s got a cleft lip on each side of her brain,” said Kari Carmody, Tatiana’s mother. “There [are] two different kinds. There’s open lip and closed lip, and she’s got one type on each side of her brain.”

Through the CP Telethon, Tatiana received her wheelchair and a tablet to help her communicate. Now, she’s looking for a way to give back.

“She’s gone through a lot in those 10 years,” Burlo said, “so I wanted to do something special for her. We decided we were going to help her make a lot of money. That was a big thing she wanted to do.”

Southern Door has their telethon every year. Burlo said she wanted to do something special for Tatiana this year.

“I asked her one day, ‘do you want to make some money?’ And her arms go up, and her head starts going, and I said, ‘a bunch of money,’ and she goes, ‘yeah,'” Burlo said.

“She is the happiest girl ever,” Carmody said. “She’s got a contagious smile. Her nickname at school is she is the movie star. She loves to be the center of attention.”