Long-Term Friendship and “Giving” Pennies

Author: NF Network, Breanna Bronowski-Stutsman
Published On: 06/09/2020

When parents first hear the words “neurofibromatosis,” there are thousands of thoughts running through their minds. What does this word mean? How will this affect my child? What does this mean for their future? What do we do now?

Staci Lewis, a Mississippi photographer, first heard those words when her second son, Nolan, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1. As these questions continued to rise with new answers and yet even more uncertainties, it wasn’t long before she connected with Carrie Wylie, our #NFStrong chair in Memphis, TN and mom to Kaitlyn, who also has NF1.

For several years, Staci and Carrie have built their friendship from a distance, staying connected via social media, video calls, and emails as they navigated through their diagnoses. Though several attempts were made to meet in person, the timing never worked out, until recently.

On June 3rd, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lewis family made a trip from their home in Mississippi up to Memphis, TN for Nolan’s MRI at the NF clinic at University of Tennessee, Le Bonheur. After his big day at the children’s hospital, Staci and the Lewis family finally got to meet their friend Carrie in person, with a little surprise from Nolan.

During time at home, Staci has been teaching her children about saving money for needs, wants, and giving. When discussing where they’d like to spend their money, Nolan decided he wanted to donate his “giving” money to the Neurofibromatosis Network to help kids like him with neurofibromatosis.


As he met his friend Carrie, Nolan proudly placed his baggie of coins in her hands. In turn, Carrie also gave him a bag of goodies to thank him for his thoughtfulness.

The goodbyes were bittersweet, as hugs were substituted for waves from afar. While these times are uncertain and the diagnosis of NF brings other unknowns, Carrie says “this precious exchange gives me hope in our future and strengthens my faith even more.”


Carrie's #NFStrong 5K for Neurofibromatosis in Memphis, TN will take place on Saturday, November 7th. In addition to the in-person event, we are also offering a virtual 5K component for all of our #NFStrong 5K's for 2020. To learn more and register, please click here.

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