A 13-year-old Van Buren boy is making and selling parachord bracelets to raise money for cancer victims.
Parachord bracelets, made from multi-functional military grade parachute chord, have been a fashion and survivalist trend for several years.
Micaiah Barnett began making the bracelets two years ago for fun, selling them to friends for $2 apiece, he said.
Micaiah’s great-grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and after participating in an Alzheimer’s walk with his church, he started thinking about what he could do to raise money and awareness about the disease.
"I hear about all these people that go to the walk that raise hundreds of dollars, and I thought that, well, at least I could raise some money," Micaiah said.
First Micaiah considered trying to solicit for donations, but then decided that selling the bracelets - they cost $5 each when he’s raising money for a benefit - would bring more interest, he said.
Then Micaiah heard the news that a family friend from church, Chris Cecil, had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Micaiah, with the help of his grandmother Pat Vansell who works at Arvest Bank, decided to put all the money he raised from selling the bracelets into a bank account for Cecil until, as Micaiah said, Cecil is "back to doing normal things."
"I knew that I wanted to do something to help him, but I didn’t know how," Micaiah said. "Then I decided I could do the bracelets."
Micaiah custom makes his bracelets after taking a person’s wrist circumference and their chosen colors, and it takes him less than 30 minutes to make a bracelet, he said.
With the help of his dad for large orders, Micaiah braids the parachord, then in the center adds a colored awareness ribbon for the disease being represented. All his bracelets currently sport a white ribbon for lung cancer.
So far Micaiah has sold at least 122 bracelets for Cecil, he said, adding $610 to the account.
Cecil is at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas receiving treatment and was unavailable for comment, but Vansell said Micaiah’s decision to help others is not out of character for the boy.
"Anytime there’s something like this that needs done, he steps in to do it," Vansell said. "He tries to find a way to raise money or donate."
Once Cecil has been helped, Micaiah will extend his bracelet making to benefit other forms of cancer and disease, he said, already planning to make pink-ribboned bracelets for next year’s breast cancer awareness month, and purple or green for Alzheimer’s.
"There’s not many kids that do that and do it all year long," Vansell said of Micaiah’s willingness to give. "He just has a big, caring heart and I hope he keeps that all his life."
To order a bracelet, send Micaiah a message via Facebook or donate directly to the Christopher Cecil Cares Account at Arvest.