When Bryson was eight-years-old, he was met with tragic news. Not only was his family suffering financially, but it was about to cost him something that meant the world to him. So, he decided to step in and do the unthinkable.
Meet the Woodruffs
Meet Kimberly and her eight-year-old son, Bryson. The hard-working mom faced some financial challenges that would eventually affect her young children - until she got a text from her son that changed everything.
Bryson had a special kind of love for Pokémon ever since his father showed him the ins and outs of the game when he was four. He eagerly started collecting Pokémon cards. And for every holiday, he would ask his family members for new cards to add to his collection. And just like that, he had hundreds.
With years and years of collecting cards under his belt, Bryson soon became a Pokémon expert and connoisseur, some may say! The young entrepreneur had a plan to help out his family, even if it meant doing something most eight-year-olds wouldn't dream of doing.
Bryson had tons of boxes and binders, all filled to the brim with Pokémon cards. So when his mom received the surprising text message that changed everything, she was shocked, to say the least. Bryson decided to set up a stand on the street with a hand-made sign reading "Pokémon 4 sale", selling his prized possessions.
Once his stand was up and going, people began buying the Pokémon cards! At first, his neighbors thought Bryson was just selling his cards for pocket money. But soon after, they found out what the money was actually for. Slowly the unexpected news spread far out of Lebanon, Virginia.
Once the news left small-town Virginia, Kimberly was interviewed by USA Today, discussing her son's brave, inspirational and selfless actions. "It started out with a few neighbors, and then those people told people, and they told more people, and it kept going and going," she told the media in June 2021.
What To Do?
Eventually, USA Today picked up the story for its warm and inspirational message - but Kimberly still had a lot to think about in terms of her family. She still had a big decision to make, and even with Bryson being the incredible son he was, she didn't want him to worry.
Kimberly was more than proud of her son and his commitment to helping the family. But she admitted as heartwarming as it was, "it hurt to see." She didn't want him to worry; it wasn't his job. "But seeing him be so selfless made me realize that I did something right in raising him to be like this," she said.
A Surprising Value
Bryson selling his Pokémon cards was a big deal for him and his family. Not only did he sell the playing cards that are of sentimental value to him and his childhood, but some of the rare Pokémon cards can go for hundreds of dollars - if not thousands!
On average, Pokémon cards are worth around $1.20 per card. If someone were to sell a whole bunch of cards, that could come up to a nice amount! However, if someone was lucky enough to score a rare or promotional card, they could be looking at a nice cash sum. In 2022, Logan Paul (above) bought a card for $5.275 million.
Did Bryson score a rare or promotional card in his built-up collection? That would be the dream! However, his little business didn't have any Pokémon cards worth $5.275 million - but he did have a business-savvy brain and a whole lotta motivation behind him.
Although Bryson did not have any million-dollar cards hidden away, he raised $400 selling his cards! The young businessman made a few hundred after just two afternoons on the streets, so we can only imagine his bright business future. But what was all the money for?
Bryson had collected all this money for something near and dear to his heart. The Woodruff family needed to put together money for something that meant the world to all of them: saving their dog. The family dog, Bruce, was a black lab mix and became an instant part of the family from the start.
It's almost every young kid's dream to have a pet. There is nothing like the bond between a dog and its owner, so for Bryson and Bruce, it was no different. According to Kimberly, Bryson always wanted a pet. So much so that he would start crying when they visited the animal shelter.
Instant Best Friends
Bryson was desperate for a pet and would do anything possible to get one! And one lucky day, Bruce, the beautiful black lab mix, came into the Woodruff family's life: the family had friends whose dogs were having puppies, and the rest was history. Bryson fell in love with the dog.
Bryson had found the perfect furry friend to join their family, and instantly the two hit it off. In an interview with USA Today in 2021, Kimberly shared, "They're best friends. They love each other." However, something unpredictably sad happened for both Bryson and Bruce.
Something's Not Right
Bryson was so excited to have a built-in best friend finally - but things started to change. The young boy began to notice something strange about his new furry friend. Bryson was an observant and bright kid and right away knew something wasn't right with Bruce.
In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper in a June 2021 interview, Kimberly opened up about Bruce's behaviors changing: "He is a very playful puppy, and he wasn't really moving. He wasn't coming out of his crate; he wasn't eating." So they took him to the vet for a check-up.
The Moment They Feared
Upon noticing the changes in his behaviors and overall vibe, the Woodruff family decided the best thing to do was take Bruce to get checked out. The family took their new puppy to Southwest Virginia Veterinary Services and, unfortunately, was given the news they were dreading to hear.
The family found out their furry baby was suffering from parvo. Parvo is a terribly contagious virus - mainly affecting dogs - that could be fatal if it isn't immediately treated. However, the treatment Bruce needed was quite expensive. So what were they going to do?
When the Woodruff family adopted Bruce, he had actually been vaccinated against the common Parvovirus, or so Kimberly thought. Vaccines for the common virus are typically administered in a series of three shots. One when the puppy is 6-to-8 weeks old, again at 10-to-12 weeks, and at 14-to-16 weeks, with a booster shot to follow.
However, there had been an issue with the vaccines given to Bruce. Kimberly decided to self-administer the vaccines at home to reduce the cost of the series of shots. But in doing so, she didn't realize that the vaccines had to be placed in the fridge first.
A Rising Problem
The costs to cover Bruce's veterinary bills were massive. Kimberly was a phlebotomy student, and her husband was an arborist. In an interview with the Washington Post, she shared, "Our income is very limited. My husband is the only one who works, since I'm in school." Their bills were only increasing…
Kimberly told the Washington Post, "I really didn't realize how expensive it could be until this happened." Bruce was their "first family dog," and the expenses were insane. The initial bill for Bruce's treatment was around $655 for just three days at the clinic; however, the bills were just starting.
Now that a specialist had seen Bruce, the Woodruff family was not only concerned for their family dog but how it would affect their overall financials. It's already expensive having a family of five with a dog - but to have to pay for Bruce's medical expenses was daunting.
So what were they going to do? Kimberly was concerned about covering the costs of Bruce's vet bills. But when she spoke to her husband about it, Bryson overheard the whole conversation. According to Kimberly, her son started drawing up plans, even after being told not to worry about it. But that didn't happen...
Praying for the Best
After he heard the devastating conversation between his parents, Bryson was immediately desperate to do something for his favorite furry friend. His whole life, he wanted a pet, and finally, he got one. But suddenly, there were so many unexpected challenges they had to overcome. What were they going to do?
According to Kimberly, Bryson began crying when he heard the devastating news about Bruce. The concerned mother told USA Today that her son looked at her with tears in his eyes, saying, "Mom, I don't want Bruce to die. I'm going to pray that he don't die."
Coming to the Rescue
When times get tough, parents are often the first ones to step in and do everything in their power to help out their family. But out of the pure love and affection Bryson had for his dog, he wanted to step in and help - in any capacity he knew how. And for him, it meant selling his Pokémon cards.
Once people picked up on what Bryson was doing to help his family out, people from all over came to do what they could. Some people came to his small Pokémon stand on the side of the road to show their support by simply dropping off cash or donating their own cards to sell. We love to hear it.
People were showing their support left and right for Bryson, his Pokémon stand, and his overall initiative to help his family. The young eight-year-old turned his hobby and passion into a full-functioning business to collect as much money as possible to help Bruce.
In Kimberly's interview with the Washington Post, she shared how absolutely overwhelmed she was by the support her son received from local supporters. "He sold some cards, but before I could even notice a dent in his collection, people had already dropped off so many more. It was amazing." But that's not where this story ends.
Fellow Dog Lovers
People in the neighborhood continued to show their love and support for Bryson, Bruce, and the entire family. The family's next-door neighbor, Ginger King, was one of the Woodruffs' biggest supporters in helping Bruce towards recovery and helping cut some of the family's financial responsibilities.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Ginger shared why she decided to step in and help. "I'm a dog lover myself, so I decided to help out as much as possible," she said. She had her own dog, Daisy, so when she saw Bryson selling his Pokémon cards, she felt "so sorry for him" and bought a supply of dog food for Bruce.
Going the Extra Mile
It didn't stop there! Once one neighbor jumped in, more and more started donating their time and money to help save Bruce and support Bryson and his family in the process. The Woodruff family lived next to Brenton Moseley, who also decided to help out any way he could.
Brenton Moseley felt for Bryson and the entire family. He confessed to the Washington Post, "I've got three dogs, so it hit me pretty hard. I put myself in Bryson's shoes and looked at him selling his most valuable things to save his best friend and dog."
Brenton Moseley wanted to go the extra mile to help the Woodruff family through their tough times. As the kind neighbor explained in his interview with the Washington Post, he felt very connected to their story. This is why he decided to do what he did next.
The unbelievably helpful neighbor set up a donation box at his bar, Lonesome Pine Brewing Co., to collect money for the family to cover Bruce's vet bills. "We raised $450. We were in tears talking about it. It's very heartwarming to see how our community and town reacted with selfless giving," Moseley gushed.
More Good News
Ginger King and Brenton Moseley weren't the only two who helped out the family in covering Bruce's financial expenses - but they definitely helped get things moving along! Once people got word of what was going on, they just wanted to help in any way they could. Again, that's what we love to hear!
Other companies stepped up and helped raise money for Bruce. The company Warpzone Comics & Collectibles revealed, "Our awesome customers John and Ashley Ryanair donated this Millennium Falcon to be auctioned for Bryson's Go Fund Me to help people with their pet bills!" They were also donating 10% of their sales that day.
“Worrisome to All of Us”
The family decided to set up a GoFundMe page titled, "Just a boy trying to save his dog." And very quickly - and incredibly - it hit its fundraising goal! Kimberly's long-distance friends told her it would be the best way to fundraise. And sure enough, it was.
Kimberly gushed on the GoFundMe page, "I want to thank everyone for all of their love and support for my baby and his fur baby. We have exceeded our goal and then some. The last couple of days have been so worrisome to all of us." However, all of that was about to change…
Things Were Looking Up
Finally, Bruce was able to receive the care he needed! After endless sleepless nights and emotional conversations, a brave eight-year-old - with the help of his wonderful neighborhood - was able to ultimately save the precious puppy. It was remarkable.
Kimberly shared the good news on her GoFundMe page: "any remaining money left over from our cause will be used to help another family who is currently in a tough situation with their mommy dog. Bryson will also be using some money he raised to reward himself for his selflessness that has touched the hearts of so many."
Very Special (& Rare) Surprise
Besides Bruce's recovery, Bryson was met with another unbelievable surprise: His story went viral, and eventually, the Pokémon Company's headquarters in Seattle got ahold of the story. They were so moved by what he did to help his family that they sent him an entire box of brand new, rare Pokémon cards.
The letter on the box read, "Hey Bryson, we were so inspired by your story about selling your cards for your dog's recovery, these are some cards to help you replace the ones you had to sell." Kimberly told The Post, "I was amazed. I didn't think it would reach them." And Bryson added he was "so, so, so, so excited."
Inspiration for All
Now that Bruce was doing so much better and the news went viral, Bryson got his best friend back. But in doing so, he also received an ample amount of love and respect from people who got ahold of his story. Very deserving of everything coming towards him, the young boy was about to receive another major surprise.
One of Bryson's favorite Pokémon YouTubers, RealBreakingNate, surprised him with a special visit and brought some special cards with him. "This has been big news all over the world, and it's easily one of the most inspirational stories I have ever heard in my life, and I know I was definitely inspired! Thank you, Bryson!" he wrote.
Bryson was basking in the events that suddenly transpired - and soon enough, his ultimate wish came true: Bruce was improving! The young boy started his journey to help save his dog, and with a whole lotta love and support from the community, he did just that (and got some sick Pokémon cards along the way).
As Kimberly revealed with her followers on the family's GoFundMe page, "Bruce is now home with his family. He is doing great but still in recovery. Bryson was able to help the mommy dog get home to her puppies. We thank all of you for your continued love and support."
“He’d Do Whatever It Takes”
Following the viral news, more of Bryson's family members spoke to USA Today in June 2021. His grandfather David Cole Jr. told the media that he saw support from Australia, China, Ireland, and more - which warmed their hearts to see how far the news spread!
"With everything that's happened in the past year and a half, we need some sunshine. But for Bryson, all he knew was that his puppy was sick, and he'd do whatever it takes to save his puppy," his grandfather recalled. As for Bryson? He was a tad overwhelmed with the spotlight on him...
Becoming a Household Name
With the family's newfound spotlight, Bryson automatically became the center of attention! Of course, what he did was terrific, but he did it because he loved his dog and wanted to ensure a healthy life for him. He had no idea that he would become the next viral sensation in doing so.
In her interview with USA Today, Kimberly shared that Bryson was usually shy and to himself. She shared that because he was more introverted, he wasn't sure what to do with the sudden burst of attention. Bryson even made it to People magazine, but Kimberly recalled Bryson telling her, "I just want to be a kid."
A Mother's Pride
"The last few weeks have been amazing and a little overwhelming for us. But I cannot express enough how proud I am of Bryson. To be eight years old and [to] have such a huge impact on the world has shown me that I'm doing something right as a parent," Kimberly gushed on her Facebook page.
In response to Kimberly's post, the comments and messages continued to pour in! People were still offering to help however they could. One Facebook user wrote, "Hi, I saw this on the local news and would like to send Bryson some Pokémon cards to replace the ones he sold. Please send me a message."
A Happy Ending
Kimberly continued to update the family's followers via Facebook and their GoFundMe page regarding Bruce's overall health progress. Her followers were thrilled to hear the progression of his health - especially from where he started and how they finally reached the finish line! What a journey.
Their adorable black lab finally received his final vaccinations when Kimberly wrote a message to her followers sharing the exciting news. "Last set of shots for this guy today. He is also a whole 45 pounds now." Now, the money from Bryson's fundraiser can help other dogs and families in need.
Paying It Forward
In her interview with the Washington Post, Kimberly shared that her son had raised enough money to help three others families pay for their veterinary bills. "We definitely want to pay it forward. It's a horrible situation to be in. Knowing other families go through the same thing, we want to help," she said.
"A year ago today, the world came together and supported Bryson in his effort to help his puppy. Today Bruce is well, wild, and thriving." Kimberly gushed on Facebook. "I am still beyond proud of my baby and grateful for everyone who helped him reach his goal and then supported him while he helped other families as well."