Cool Kid Briana Smitherman brings sparks of joy to sick children through charity

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The joy and smiles on the faces of kids at the Ronald McDonald House in Los Angeles is exactly what Briana Smitherman was hoping for. It's also what her sister Victoria would have wanted.

Cool Kid Briana Smitherman has used the grief over the loss of her sister to bring a spark to the lives of other sick children.

"Victoria was like my best friend. She was very unique," Briana said. "She passed away of brain cancer at the end of 2016, and she mentioned several times how she wanted to leave a legacy of bringing joy to others, especially ill children."

During the five years of Victoria's surgeries and treatments, the Smitherman family called the Ronald McDonald house home. And now by creating "Victoria's Sparks of Joy," the Santiago High School senior recruits volunteers from Corona to host play days and other events, helping families facing similar challenges.

"I've seen my parents go through it with my sister, and just being able to have that connection with the families is very special to me," Briana said.

Vince Bryson, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, also recognizes Briana's acts of kindness.

"You're under these terrible circumstances of having a seriously ill child at the hospital and all the uncertainty that that brings, and to have someone who is a complete stranger to you come here and provide this act of kindness for you, it really means the world," Bryson said.

Briana also wears Victoria's thumbprint on a necklace. Her joy left a lasting impression on this Cool Kid, who now wants to become a nurse.

"The nurses at Children's Hospital played a big influence on my sister and seeing that, I want to bring that influence to the ill children as well," Briana said.
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