Girl raises $47,000 with bracelets to help best friend with rare skin disease

Anne Marie suffers from a rare condition that causes her skin to easily blister. (KATV via ABC News)

A 9-year-old girl from Arkansas raised nearly $50,000 for her friend who suffers from a rare skin disease.

Bethany Walker started making small rubber bracelets in hopes that she could sell them for a few bucks and help her friend Anne Marie Cox raise enough money for a saltwater pool for therapy.

“She has this skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa,” Bethany explained. “If you lightly touch her, she’ll get blisters.”

The pool will help 10-year-old Anne Marie to cope with her rare genetic skin condition, which causes blisters to appear on the skin due to a slight pressure or friction. The saltwater will help blisters heal and ease pain.

“Any kind of friction or trauma to the skin causes the skin to blister and come off. Being out in the summertime is just not going to happen,” Anne Marie’s mother Kandi Cox told ABC News. “She can’t go to public pools or anything like that. She really has to be in a protected environment.”

After the family had little luck fundraising, Bethany decided to make rubber band bracelets. She sold the bracelets through her Bracelets by Bethany Facebook page and raised more than $47,000 in just 19 weeks.

Neither “her mom nor I even fathomed what this little girl could do,” Cox said. “She started making bracelets and put them together with these little cards.”

The good deed led to Bethany qualifying recently as a finalist in a national scholarship for community service sponsored by IZOD and J.C. Penney. After raising the money for Anne Marie’s pool, Bethany began using the bracelets to fundraise for other causes as well.

The money raised was used to build a salt water pool for Anne Marie. Anne Marie took her first steps in the new pool in June.

“We have a race, like, who can swim the fastest,” Bethany said. “I normally win by a little.”

But it’s making an even bigger splash in Anne Marie’s life.

“[The best part is] spending time with my family,” Anne Marie said.

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