UMC hosts surprise 9th birthday for Amarillo burn victim

Published: May. 14, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Six weeks ago, just the thought of a ninth birthday party for Brantley Parrish of Amarillo seemed impossible, especially after his younger brother’s first birthday party was interrupted by a fire pit accident. Moments later, the Parrish family made an unexpected trip to University Medical Center.

“It was a nightmare, but it took like nine seconds from the 911 call for the sheriff’s to show up,” said Brantley’s mother, Jennifer Parrish. “By the time that we were in the ambulance to the hospital, I was in the ambulance with Brantley, (his father) Austin was on his way to the hospital. They already had a helicopter en route to Northwest, and they brought him here and got him right in, and they’ve taken really good care of him!”

“We didn’t know if he was going to make it. It was so scary. He had 41 percent of his body burned, and grade II inhalation burns, and I don’t even know what all that means, but I know it was pretty serious,” she said.

While nurses and doctors focused on Brantley, relatives did the same for his surprise birthday party Saturday. One of those was Jennifer’s cousin Melody Lucoski.

“When he first got here, she told me that his birthday was actually on May 20. And, I said ‘I’m going to get him a party’. She went ‘what?’ I said ‘We’re going to plan him a party. So, I started making phone calls. United, I got them to donate ice cream, and a cake, and water,” Lucoski said.

The far corner of UMC’s McInturff Center, which is normally used for banquets and conferences, was filled with balloons, games, presents, and even props from Marvel’s popular “Avengers” series. One of Brantley’s first gifts was a specialized “superhero” drawing from local artist David Alaniz. Even some of his classmates from Amarillo came down. For the Parrish family, this party was a much-welcome distraction from the hardships they faced in the last few weeks.

“They’re having a difficult time, even paying their rent costs,” Lucoski said.

The family has faced many financial challenges since the accident. While Austin has recently switched jobs, Jennifer left her job because she needed more time to take care of Brantley and his siblings. The family has also not had insurance.

Those close to Brantley and Jennifer kickstarted a Facebook page called “Team Brantley”, which also includes a GoFundMe account. There will also be an account with PlainsCapital Bank. Along with the accumulating medical bills, an expensive helicopter flight from Amarillo to Lubbock has added to the family’s debt. Jennifer is very grateful for the support from the Lubbock community, especially since it has come from so many people she’s never met.

“(It) is something you could never repay. It’s something you could never expect,” she said.

Not only has Brantley shown physical progress, Jennifer says his overall outlook has improved as well.

“He’s moved mountains. We’ve had a lot of prayer. We’ve prayed a lot and we’ve cried a lot, and we’ve laughed a lot and he’s got jokes. He’s funny.”

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