Olivia Bratcher‘s story starts when she was in fifth grade and joined the Girl Scouts. Little did she know, several years later, her Girl Scout Gold Award project would help cancer survivors like her mother and become something she expects to remain passionate about for years to come.
Olivia’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. A friend offered her a recliner chair to use during her recovery from surgery.
“It’s hard to stay comfortable. And if you do it incorrectly or put too much strain on your body, then you actually go backward, and you kind of have to restart your recovery,” explains Olivia, who watched her mom recover. “So it’s very important for people to stay in their recliner chair and stay relaxed and basically on bed rest for a while.”
After she recovered, Olivia’s mother gave the chair back to its original owner. However, when she underwent a second surgery for reconstruction, she asked if she could borrow it again. The owner had lent the chair to someone else, and so it was not available.
17-year-old Olivia was searching for a sustainable idea to use as her Girl Scout Gold Award project at the time. Watching her mother go through the ordeal with the reclining chair was what made her realize this was her opportunity.
“[The Gold Award] is a project that identifies an issue in your community and solves it with a sustainable solution,” says Olivia. “I knew that this was a need when my mom was going through this and thought, ‘Oh, no, I have to get a recliner,’ but recliners—it’s, I mean, it’s a whole ‘nother piece of furniture to buy.”
Olivia reached out to Williamson Medical Center Foundation and immediately encountered support for her idea.
“Olivia reached out and we began conversations, and I knew immediately that this was something that we would absolutely want to support,” recalls Williamson Medical Center Foundation Development Director and Gold Award Project Mentor. “When I heard Olivia’s desire to bless our patients in that way, I remember one of our physicians saying, ‘What an incredible thing. And you can count on me for support.’”
After she had the foundation’s support, Olivia reached out to local furniture stores to find someone to provide the chairs. She also needed to find a way to store, transport, and sanitize them for future use. Seth Hall, the store owner of Head Springs Depot, was happy to help.
“She is a dynamic young lady and who obviously had a heart to help others who have a similar journey to her mother/family. We have dispatched a couple of high-quality U.S. manufacturers to build the recliners to get the initial group of these available for local patients coming out of surgery at Williamson Medical,” he says.
Head Springs Depot bought all the chairs at cost and helped Olivia with her marketing.
“Our marketing team has assembled a basic logo package and are designing/sourcing all of her marketing signage. It’s been neat to see the ladies on the marketing team rally around her as well,” says Seth.
Olivia has raised more than $5,000 so far. This is enough to purchase five recliner chairs for breast cancer patients. The recipients will be chosen by the Breast Health Navigators at Williamson Medical Center.
“The Pink Chair Project was created to provide comfort and encouragement to breast cancer survivors by lending a recliner chair for use as they recover post-surgery,” says Olivia. “The chairs represent a legacy of love and hope as they travel from home to home allowing women to heal physically and emotionally.”
In the future, Olivia plans to partner with other hospitals and furniture stores to spread her project beyond Williamson County.
“This project is more than just the Gold Award to me,” says Olivia. “You’re supposed to, at the end of your senior year, you have your project and it’s checked off, basically. And you kind of walk away and your partners keep it going. And it’s sustainable. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk away from a project like this.”
Olivia’s mom is now cancer-free. May this project be an example for hospitals and cancer centers in other locations across the country. It would be fantastic if no mastectomy patient ever had to go without a recliner to help them recover. You can help move Olivia’s Pink Chair Project forward by donating here.