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Bradenton girl’s fundraiser hits $10K goal, with sights set higher for next year

Bradenton girl raises thousands in donations for St. Jude’s

Francesca Friedel, 11, explains how she got started with her annual charity event to raise thousands of dollars for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital with the help of sports teams like the Houston Texans, Golden State Warriors and more.
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Francesca Friedel, 11, explains how she got started with her annual charity event to raise thousands of dollars for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital with the help of sports teams like the Houston Texans, Golden State Warriors and more.

After her fundraiser achieved the $10,000 goal she set for herself, Francesca Friedel is already looking forward to raising even more for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital next year.

For four years, Francesca has led an annual charity fundraiser, raising thousands each time. This year’s contributions totaled $10,038, but she’s already upping the ante for next year. When she first began in 2016, the event raised about $3,500.

“Yes, absolutely,” Francesca said when asked if she’d continue the tradition in 2020. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger, so I’ll aim for $12,000 or $13,000.”

Her grandfather, George Friedel, has played a key role in gathering the items sold during the fundraiser’s silent auction. Friedel leverages the connections made with various sports organizations he made during his time playing for the Washington Generals basketball team. Each year, national franchises have been willing to assist an 11-year-old girl’s dream project.

“The lady with the Golden State Warriors is already asking what we’ll want for next year,” Friedel said.

The sports memorabilia auctioned off this year came from big names like the Houston Texans, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tiger Woods. More than 100 people participated in the March 23 event at Wild Oak Bay.

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A guest inspects the donated memorabilia at Francesca Friedel’s annual fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital on March 23. Some of the featured items this year were an autographed Kevin Durant jersey, a game-worn Florida State University football jersey and a 17th hole flag autographed by Phil Mickelson. Ryan Callihan rcallihan@bradenton.com

Francesca’s fundraiser has earned recognition from former Gov. Rick Scott, who praised her “hard work to help children dealing with illness and health issues,” in the past. Friedel says he hopes to receive a similar letter from Gov. Ron DeSantis soon.

The event is also supported by local organizations like Anna Maria Oyster Bar, IMG Academy’s Nick Bollettieri and Swordfish Grill.

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