Fifth grader starts fundraiser to help 3-year-old friend in need of liver transplant

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EUDORA, Kan. -- Children may be smaller than adults, but their hearts are often just as large.

Such is the case for one student from Douglas County, Kansas, who is helping one of her beloved friends survive in the face of a serious medical condition.

It's a little thing that could add up to make a big difference. Rylee Griffin, 11, is a fifth grade student at Eudora Elementary School. When she heard her three-year old family friend was in dire need of an urgent liver transplant, she started selling black and red rubber bracelets, bearing the inscription "Faith over Fear" for five dollars apiece.

That friend in need is Genevieve Kiene, 3. The Griffin Family knows the Kienes from spending time at the fitness center they operate in the Eudora area. Genevieve was born with Alagille Syndrome, a rare condition that starts in the liver, but can cause poor development in other organs. A transplant is the only cure doctors know.

"She has to go through surgery and she might be in a lot of pain. She's probably really sad right now," Rylee Griffin said.

On Monday, Genevieve got that transplant at a Kansas City hospital. The Griffins said she had only been on the transplant list for only two days before a donor and matching liver were found.

"You can always do anything to help people," Rylee Griffin said on Tuesday.

The bracelet's inscription, Faith over Fear, reflects the family's faith in God. So far, Rylee said she's sold close to 400 bracelets, which means she's closing in on $2,000 raised.

"I think it's just that she feels things very deeply. She's never been one to sit by and let things happen. She's always wanted to do things about it if there was something wrong," Rachelle Griffin, Rylee's mom, said.

"It means a lot because you're helping a little girl in need, and she really needs it," Rylee Griffin added.

The Griffins say Genevieve's emergency surgery will cost her family as much as $500,000. Rylee said this is proof that children can make a difference in the lives of their peers.

Eudora's Department of Parks and Rec will host a second annual benefit 5K run for the Kienes in late April.

The family operates a special Facebook page, where they often post updates on Genevieve's condition.

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