Months after her daughter’s death, this mom is coping with grief by spreading happiness.

“Brooke was, from 3 months, like the happiest kid I had ever seen in my life,” says Brooke's mom, Amy.

“She had colic the first three months, so I can’t include that time,” she laughs. “But, from that point on, she was so easy, so good. Just happy, happy all the time.”

All images via Amy Stanton Mulford, used with permission.


"She liked everything," says Amy. "She loved trying new things. She loved traveling to new places. We tried to make everything we did an adventure."

Brooke's cheerfulness was remarkable, Amy continues. “She could run into a doorknob with her head and fall back and start laughing. Nothing fazed her at all."

“And none of that changed when she was diagnosed with cancer.”

At age 4, Brooke was diagnosed with an aggressive neuroblastoma — a cancer of the nervous system that started on her adrenal gland and spread throughout her bones. It would make her life exceedingly difficult for the next eight and a half years.

In the spring of 2017, Brooke passed away. But she left behind a legacy of kindness with all the people she touched.

Brooke's uncanny empathy for others lives on in a charity she started to help other kids suffering from cancer.

Brooke and Amy were inspired by their first experience in the emergency room at their local hospital.

"Here I am in the ER with her for I think it was probably like eight hours that day with a 4-year-old who's not feeling well and having absolutely nothing to do," says Amy.

Once she was formally diagnosed, toys and games began flooding in from family and friends — more than they knew what to do with. But Brooke never forgot about the other kids in that hospital without toys of their own.

"We got to thinking — they have so many people donating stuff at the children's hospital. We should do something like this here," Amy says, referring to their local hospital, whose ER didn't have toys or anything to occupy a child.

And just like that, Brooke's Toy Closet was born, with the first donations coming from Brooke herself.

Today, Peninsula Regional still gets donations for the Toy Closet from community members and from The Brooke Mulford Foundation. Through her Toy Closet, Brooke continues to have an uplifting impact on hospitalized children.

With her cancer, Brooke and her mom had plenty to worry about on their own. But they wanted to help others too.

When she created the Toy Closet, Brooke wasn't thinking of herself because that was just her way: When she was in pain, she thought of others who might be too.

"These kids that get stuff from the Toy Closet — hopefully that's the only time they're going to be in the hospital. But it's still not an easy thing. It can be a scary place," says Amy.

"Brooke definitely felt for any kid who had to be in that position because she had to be doing it so often."

Now, Amy copes with her grief by continuing to do the work that Brooke did during her life.

Until the last, Brooke and Amy maintained hope that scientists would find a cure for her cancer. Now, Amy continues to work with the Brooke Mulford Foundation, which was formed to raise funds for neuroblastoma research, in hopes of finding a cure for other families with that same hope. She also works with other organizations dedicated to prevention, research, and finding cures for different pediatric cancers.

Because, for Amy, it's all about paying it forward.

"I hope that's my purpose," she says, "to continue to do these things, to hopefully fulfill what I was put here to do."

Northwestern Mutual worked directly with Brooke and her mom as a sponsor for ALSF and Wonder Capes in hopes of raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research and, now, to honor her memory.

Heroes
True
Northwestern Mutual
via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The truth doesn't hurt for an elementary school teacher in California who's gone viral for teaching her class an empowering remix of one of Lizzo's hit songs.

Ms. Mallari — who teaches at Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg, east of San Francisco — took the singer's song, "Truth Hurts," and reworked the lyrics to teach her students how to be great.

Lizzo's song made history this year for being the longest running number one single from a female rap artist. The catchy original lyrics are about boy problems, but Mallari's remix teaches her students about fairness, helping each other out, and embracing their own greatness.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Newsy People / Twitter

The internet was ablaze after notoriously private actor Keanu Reeves, 55, walked the red carpet at the LACMA Art + Film Gala on Saturday with his new girlfriend, artist Alexandra Grant, 46.

It was refreshing to see a man in Hollywood dating a woman who's age-appropriate. Older actors are notorious for being with women half their age.

Keep Reading Show less
popular