Submitted by Brooke Young
Brooke Young, business administration major at Ashland University, spent her childhood visiting nursing homes and other care facilities with her grandfather and therapy dog, Molly. After his recent passing from a battle with cancer, she felt moved to share their bond with others.
This inspiration from her own childhood led her to publish a children’s book in his honor, titled, “Murray’s Miraculous Mission.”
The book tells the story of a young girl who visits nursing homes with her therapy dog, bringing cheer to the residents and making new friends along the way.
“Visiting nursing homes and other care facilities weekly changed the landscape of my life and the way in which I view the world,” she said. “After his passing from cancer a few years ago, I was passionate about honoring his memory.”
The illustrations were created by Chad Thompson, a former Disney feature Animation Studio artist, and are based off of Young and her new therapy dog, Murray, a Saint Bernard/Giant Golden Poodle mix.
Young and Murray have been fortunate enough to make appearances via Zoom to children’s classrooms so Young can share her experiences and answer questions about volunteering.
“We’ve had a tremendous time visiting classrooms to answer questions, and educate about service and multi generation,” she said. “The students also love hearing that he hails from Canada.”
Young currently is preparing for the Miss Ohio Scholarship Competition that is set to be held in June of 2021. With a platform driven to foster meaningful interactions between generations, she feels this book demonstrates the volunteer work that can bridge the gap between different generations.
“I was passionate about sharing what I personally learned; there is joy and enrichment that comes from multigenerational friends and interactions,” she said. “I’m a strong believer in interacting with those outside of your generation because you learn so very much on both sides of the generational gap.”
Young said she has received an abundance of positive feedback, but feels very grateful for the inclusiveness her story offers.
“My book demonstrates diverse characters, both in terms of age, race, and gender,” she said. “I personally felt every child deserves to connect with a character, and therefore, I did my best to showcase throughout the book a plethora of physical characteristics.
“Murray’s Miraculous Mission” makes an effort to show items that are not often seen in children’s books, such as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and canes in order to normalize them. Young feels that if you expose children to such elements, then it can eliminate the discomfort that can often be associated.
If aging or disabilities are normalized, Young noted, then it can ultimately empower individuals.
Young’s younger sister, Bailey Young, said she is both inspired and proud of her older sister, and hopes the story will continue to inspire others to volunteer in their own ways.
“I am incredibly proud, thrilled, and inspired by my sister,” she said. “I have no doubt that her fun, heartwarming story will inspire children to be kinder and think of others a little more often. Hopefully a few of them will be inspired to serve in their own unique way.”
Although Young was very close with her grandfather, their volunteer work happened over 10 years ago. Throughout writing her story, she was faced with the challenge of not having a strong long-term memory.
In order to overcome this, she reached out to others that remembered their journey and pieced her story back together. Young said she was so proud that each moment in the book was based on a true event.
“I’m so proud to say that every story in the book is inspired by, and is, a real occurence of my five years spent visiting weekly,” she said. “All characters, interactions, and moments are true- just adding such a level of sincerity that I adore.”
Young said her passion for helping others gave her the opportunity to not only share her story, but also to make a difference.
“Volunteerism and service additionally shaped my life, and sowing the seeds of serving while young is a great value for all children to lean into,” she said. “Whether through robotics, music, art or science, children can make a difference in their world, and should be empowered to do so.”
Hardcover, E-book and paperback copies of Murray’s Miraculous Mission can be purchased for $10 on amazon.com, or by directly emailing Young herself at [email protected]