A little girl in Idaho named Brynn Munger received a unique present for her third birthday: A bunny doll that was made to look just like her, missing her left eye.
“I wanted to give Brynn a special bunny that’s just as unique as her,” Danielle Munger, her mom, told TODAY.
Brynn, who lost her eye to cancer, received the gift on March 25 during her family birthday party.
“She smiled so big and then she could not open the rest of her presents until we got the bunny out of her box and she could show her off to all her cousins and family,” said Munger, of Kimberly, Idaho.
With a gold bow and tutu, Brynn noticed right away that the bunny she named Sparkle resembled her, and has given her loving hugs.
“I think it made her feel very good,” Munger said. “She kept saying Sparkle has one eye; the other one’s lost. That’s her way of saying the other eye is not there.”
That night, after Brynn had changed into her Wonder Woman nightgown, Munger snapped a photo of Brynn with Sparkle, and recalled her daughter saying: “‘She matches me.’”
“It made her feel that she matters and she’s unique,” Munger said. “That we celebrate that, and it’s not to be hidden away.”
Brynn has been through a great deal in her short life. Just after her first birthday, her family noticed her left eyelid was starting to droop. Then it began to swell and turn red, her mom said, and their pediatrician sent Brynn to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, about 200 miles away. There, doctors found that she had a cancerous soft-tissue tumor behind her left eye diagnosed as undifferentiated sarcoma. In May 2015, the tumor was removed for a third time after it regrew, along with her eye, Munger said.
Six weeks of radiation followed, and just before Thanksgiving of that year, a skin graft was placed onto the area to help it heal and stay closed. Brynn has been in remission since then.
Munger says she ordered the bunny for her daughter who loves animals because she read that having a stuffed toy that resembles a child can be beneficial for a kid like Brynn.
“She’s such a happy kiddo,” Munger said. “I thought that would be a neat thing. That way she doesn’t think, I’m the only one.”
She ordered the doll from Jessica Sebastian, who at first told Munger she couldn’t get the doll made in time for Brynn’s birthday because of a waiting list but quickly changed her mind, touched by Brynn’s story.
“I wanted that little girl to feel accepted and to feel beautiful and to feel perfect because I think she is, and I think that picture shows it,” Sebastian said of the photo of Brynn with Sparkle on the night she received the gift.
Sebastian, of Caldwell, Idaho, knows how important it can be for kids to have a doll that looks like them.
She began making dolls five months ago, when her older daughter, 6-year-old Ellie, asked for dolls that looked like her and her sister, 3-year-old Pemberly. People often ask Sebastian if her daughters are “real sisters” because they look different.
“My oldest is really conscious of having darker skin than her sister,” Sebastian said. “And so one day she said, ‘Mom, can you get dolls that look like us?’”
Unable to find ones she liked to buy, Sebastian decided to make her own.
Munger is thrilled that her daughter has a lookalike bunny after all she has endured.
Brynn was a “1-year-old who should have just been playing outside, yet she was stuck in a hospital for weeks at a time,” Munger said. “She’s been through a lot, and here’s a happy time for her.”
“I’m so excited she has a cute little bunny that matches her,” she added, “and that they can be unique together.”