HASTINGS, Mich. -- Since Gloriana Elston turned 9-years-old her only wish on her birthdays have been to help someone else. This April 14, when she turns 13, she hopes to raise $30,000 or find a surgeon who can provide facial reconstruction to a long-time family friend she calls her uncle.
“He’s really a great guy, and I want to help him get his life back," said Elston.
Elston grabbed her books from her locker Monday telling FOX 17 she's working to become either an actor or teacher one day, but for now she is enjoying seventh grade. When she opened her classroom door peers shouted "Glory!" in excitement. Yet school wasn't always fun Elston says.
"Since people put me down, I like to put people up," said Elston.
Between looking back on years of being bullied in elementary school, and how her best friend Allison Wilbur gives back on her birthdays, Elston says she was inspired to pay it forward each year.
“It’s amazing ‘cause I usually don’t like being in the center of attention, and I don’t, but I love helping people," she said.
Until she turns 13, Elston's birthday wish is to raise $30,000 or find a surgeon to help her long-time family friend, her Uncle Curt Pavlik.
Elston sat alongside her uncle at their church to make a video they posted to Facebook and said: “He’s been in my life since I was 6-weeks-old. Our family loves him and wants to see the best for him.”
Ten years ago, her 39-year-old Uncle Pavlik was accidentally shot in the face while visiting a friend's home in Hastings. He works full-time at the Hastings Fiberglass Factory and has undergone surgeries, but lives without teeth and needs facial reconstruction as well as teeth implants due to jaw damage. However, the Elston family says his insurance deems this cosmetic and won't cover it.
“It makes me kind of sad because to think about me being in his situation it would be hard just to not be able to eat, and go out, you’d have to have it all soft, smooth food," said Elston.
Elston is not giving up on her uncle's health, hoping her persistence and birthday wish will help.
“He’s a great guy," said Elston. "He’s lived in Hastings his whole entire life.”
If you would like to make a donation, Elston started this GoFundMe page. She also has organized upcoming fundraising events including:
- Feb. 25, 1 - 4 p.m. bake sale and silent auction: 218 W. Main St., Middleville, MI
- March 25, 8 - 11 a.m. pancake breakfast: Living Waters Church, Hanover, Hastings, MI