We're just going to go ahead and file this story under sweetest big brother ever and promise you'll be swooning over this story, too. Garland Benson, 14-year-old, has been on a mission to raise a huge sum of money to help his 16-year-old sister, Christiane, as she battles a rare and very serious disease.
The siblings can often be found spending their time in their Austin neighborhood walking their two dogs or riding tandem bikes together. They love to be active and outdoors as much as they possibly can and are one of the closest brother sister duos you will ever set your eyes on.
When speaking of his sister, Garland told PEOPLE, “She’s brave and she never gives up — that inspires me to do it myself."
Garland’s sister, Christiane, is almost completely blind, which is a result of a progressive, degenerative neurological disorder called Batten disease, PEOPLE reports. Since her diagnoses, Garland's parents have started a foundation called Beyond Batten, which has made tremendous strides to help put an end to this disease. Researchers working with the foundation have discovered a combination treatment that could possibly help slow the progression of the disease. In fall 2016, the foundation launched a campaign to try to raise $6 million in two years to get the treatment in front of the FDA.
While driving to a friend's house one night with his mother, Charlotte, 54, Garland announced that he was going to contribute to the fundraising in a very big way. His lofty goal was to raise $1 million dollars all on his own. Charlotte shared with PEOPLE that “I think it’s amazing that his love for his sister inspired his belief that he was part of the solution.”
His plan to reach his goal was seemingly simple: to ask 100,000 people to give $10. He even made a video with the University of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who helped by sharing it on both Twitter and Facebook. Jewelry designer Kendra Scott even invited Garland to speak at the VIP party for the launch of her new flagship store in Austin to further raise awareness.
The checks started pouring in, even as the family would eat dinner at night, other children who felt inspired would bring checks to their front door. Whenever his parents asked if he wanted to revise his goal, his response was a very frank “My heart was set on raising it. I’m not a quitter. I wanted to keep going.”
On New Year's Eve, the very ambitious fourteen year old got one last check that helped him reach his goal. This final donation actually topped out the $6 million goal, making the meeting with the FDA possible. As of right now, their foundation is seeking a pharmaceutical company to partner with to help commercially manufacture the drugs and oversee a clinical trial.