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Brookfield mother, daughter create worldwide fundraiser to help Boston Marathon victims

Collecting T-shirts from Irish dance schools to be made into quilts

Trish Johnson (left) and her daughter, Bree, of Brookfield, show off two T-shirts that were donated from Irish dance schools around the world for the “Wrapping Jane in Our Love” fundraiser.

Trish Johnson (left) and her daughter, Bree, of Brookfield, show off two T-shirts that were donated from Irish dance schools around the world for the “Wrapping Jane in Our Love” fundraiser.

May 21, 2013

It started with a mom and daughter creating a simple Facebook group.

It's transformed into a worldwide effort to show another family a time zone away that they're not alone.

"Everyone talks about the bad effects of social media, but this shows the good it can have," Trish Johnson said.

Trish and her daughter, Bree, of Brookfield, have seen firsthand on how a community — specifically the Irish dance community — came together for the Richard family after last month's Boston Marathon bombings.

The Richards' 8-year-old son was one of three people killed in the bombings, and his sister, Jane, 7, underwent 11 operations after losing her left leg below the knee. Mom and Dad also were hospitalized.

When Trish and Bree, 21, both heavily involved in Irish dance here in Wisconsin, heard in a television interview the day after the bombings that Jane is an Irish dancer, the two took action.

"We just looked at each other with tears in our eyes and we knew we had to do something," said Bree, a 2009 Brookfield Central High School graduate.

They created the Facebook group "Wrapping Jane in Our Love" with a goal of collecting T-shirts from Irish dance schools. Those T-shirts would be made into a quilt.

Bree has connections throughout the world because of her Irish dance background, but the response, nonetheless, exceeded her expectations. More than 530 T-shirts have been sent to their home. Given this quantity, numerous quilts are now being made.

"Irish dancers are intensely competitive, but when something like this happens our comfort-mode kicks in," Trish said.

Shirts were sent to a company in New Hampshire where a wall quilt was stitched. A quilting team from Boston also has put in many hours to help.

Trish and Bree are traveling to Milton, Mass., to give the quilts to Jane's dance school, Clifden Academy.

While they might not meet the Richards, Trish said, this effort has been about bringing Jane "comfort and to show her that she's loved by (the Irish dance) community."

Trish was part of this community for six years with the Glencastle Irish Dancers in West Allis, while Bree has been for 16 years, the last 12 with Glencastle.

"I started dancing the same age as Jane, and now as an instructor it really hit me," Bree said. "So this has been special to be a part of."

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