Soaring For C! started as a Facebook page in memory of Cessna Elyse Brestel.
As months passed by, Soaring For C! took off and became known as a place of Random Acts of Kindness with over 10,000 kindness cards circulating around the world in her memory. To make a long story short, it is now a non-profit organization.
This organization promotes random acts of kindness, and kindness in general.
Not only that, but touches on the importance of mental health, primarily for elementary to college age students, and in particular suicide awareness/prevention.
We look forward to working with students, educators, and our local community more closely in forming healthy relationships on peer-to-peer level in every age group. Making kindness a habit from a young age. Soaring For C will also be providing college scholarship funds on a yearly basis for graduating high school seniors.
We are so thankful and grateful for your continued support and all of the ways you have shown love to Cessna and her entire family.
Soaring For C! - Board of Directors
"Her name is Cessna Elyse Brestel. She was the All-American girl. Straight A's. A member of the National Honor Society. Involved in dance from the age of 3. Was an athlete, in softball and cross country.....basketball, volleyball, and swimming prior to high-school. She was a special effects makeup artist and was involved in theater and one-act. She was involved in theater since the age of 9. She was a member of the speech team. She loved her family and her dog Rocky. Her parents divorced when she was 4. Both parents remarried and she has three half siblings.
She was physically beautiful. Her old soul made you feel inadequate at times. She was an empath with a heart so full of love. Cessna was loyal, empathetic and caring, confident, and driven. She always had a smile on her face and loved to use her sarcastic humor to make people laugh.
Cessna was 15 years old when she decided to end her life on February 1, 2021.
If you had asked me the percentage of chance that this would happen, I would’ve said zero percent.
In 2020, she was going through a lot of hard things. She had health problems that weren't easily controlled...she lost 45 lbs in 6 months from rumination syndrome (unintentional regurgitation...a brain/stomach issue) that most people, including doctors, don't know exist, and is usually diagnosed as a bulimic issue. Once the liquid or food goes down to your stomach, it automatically comes back up. Imagine, watching your child experience this every day, every time they drink, every time they eat….anything. It automatically comes back up. I felt like my daughter was dying before my eyes and we were at the mercy of Covid and all of the restrictions that prevented her from getting the help she needed. I constantly checked on her many nights while she was sleeping, to make sure she was still breathing.
Because of Covid, it was impossible to get into doctors and get tests run in a timely manner. What normally would've taken one month, took six months. I feel like if we could've gotten on top of this sooner, the outcome may have been different.
Because her body was so weak, she had to quit all physical activities. She was devastated to have to quit competition dance, and her other regular dance classes as well. I had already restricted her on cross country, but I knew she was still somewhat participating behind my back. Belonging and being able to do her things, is what kept her going.
Her body and brain were malnourished. I told her she amazed me because her grades weren’t suffering in any of her classes, knowing how weak she was. But that she just needed to take a break for awhile to try and heal her body and get things under control.
We were in two Minnesota hospitals after Thanksgiving for 17 days. This was when her rumination syndrome was officially diagnosed. Between Mayo Clinic and Children's Hospital in Minnesota we worked on a plan to get her health under control and to provide the nourishment her body desperately needed. However, when we were at Children's Hospital, she was grouped with the pediatric inpatient eating disorder program. She understood why she was there, but hated it. She resented it. She said she didn’t belong with kids that were anorexic, bulimic, or other eating disorders…I agreed with her but told her there wasn’t any place else that we could go at this point.
Rumination syndrome is still misunderstood or not understood, and the most doctors can do is group it into an eating disorder. There is only one program in the nation that is truly for Rumination Syndrome, and as you can imagine, there is a protocol and a long waiting list to get in there. The only real thing to help Rumination Syndrome is diaphragmatic breathing, training your diaphragm to allow your stomach to hopefully create enough space and relaxation, so that nourishment doesn’t want to come back up. Most people end up with some kind of feeding tube because it is very difficult to control, and she knew this. Thankfully, I was able to stay overnight in her hospital room the entire time.
Finally, we were able to get home before Christmas. She had worked so hard, from the time she was inpatient until the first couple weeks of January, she was able to gain 10lbs. Imagine going from basically no calories to forcing yourself to keep down 3500 calories a day. But she was determined. And I felt like I had saved her. Like she was saving herself.
Then her boyfriend broke up with her shortly after and her rumination got worse again. I told her that maybe we could get back into Minnesota again, and she asked me if that was a threat? She despised being there, even though it helped her. I told her it was just a tool to be able to reset.
It was all too much. Physically and mentally, she was exhausted. She was done.
She had 2 psychiatrists that screened her and they didn't feel she was a candidate for depression meds. While she was hospitalized, she had the whole gamut of mental health team evaluate her every day, and again, they didn’t feel that she was in danger of herself. She was also actively with a therapist when we came home and the therapist said she didn't see this coming.
She was dealing with hard stuff and I thought she was strong enough. I had talked to her multiple times about her mental well-being and being worn down and being depressed and if she felt like she couldn’t do it anymore then she needed to tell me. She always said that she was fine or that she was tired, but that she would get through it...and that's what I feel guilty about...not knowing she wasn't strong enough. But she didn't want anyone to know. She was open with her feelings usually...but not this.
I found notes the next evening after she died. Even then she cared about us and told us "that we didn't deserve this", and that I as her mom, "always did everything right, and didn't do anything wrong, that I was her best friend from the beginning until the very end"...but she couldn't stay. It was everything. Everything collapsed in her world all at once and even though she knew she was loved and she loved her family it all came to a head, and could no longer take it.
And then there was the other note…she referred back to when she was young and bullied, and as a result her first “attempt” was at 9 years old!! I had zero clue!!
I knew about the sometimes bullying and the unkindness. But it wasn’t constant. When her dad and I divorced, she was in counseling. In middle school she was in counseling. She also had a teammate mentor from middle school to high school. She went to catholic elementary and middle school. In first grade, a classmate told her she didn't belong at catholic school because her parents divorced and that she should kill herself. At the various times, the bullying was approached head on. But she still carried it to the end. I can remember things in my past that people have said to me that weren't very nice and still carry it to this day myself. I feel like a lot of us are that way. We carry it with us always.
Since she died, I've had a lot of her classmates, friends, acquaintances…reach out to me to tell me how kind she was or how she helped navigate them through their issues and that she made a difference in their lives. She was always the first to join in helping handicapped or "special needs" kids her entire life. She knew what it felt like, to feel like she didn’t belong or treated unkindly, and so she made a point to make others feel loved always...putting others before herself and always standing up for others.
She just simply couldn't carry it anymore. God took away her suffering and opened his arms to her.
One of Cessna’s friends started the Soaring For C! Facebook group in her memory. As months passed by, Soaring For C! took off and became known as a place of Random Acts of Kindness. It has now become a non-profit organization that promotes random acts of kindness, and kindness in general. Not only that, but advocates for mental health, primarily for elementary to college age students, and in particular for suicide awareness/prevention. We hope to work with students and educators more closely and forming healthy relationships on a peer-to-peer level in every age group. Making kindness a habit from a young age.
Donations are always welcomed
Fly High C! I love you…to infinity…and beyond!"
Cessna’s story: as told by her mom Misty Brouillette