PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 4, 2014

Community to remember spirited girl on Avery Day

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

GROVES — No one who ever met Avery Anne Guerra was likely to forget her.

“Love just radiated out of her,” Debbie Broussard said of the little girl who called her “Mi Mi.” “She always had a smile on her face.”

Avery died in July 2008, at age 4, from a staph infection complicated by a complex congenital heart defect she had had since birth. Six years later, Avery’s hometown of Groves shows no signs of forgetting the little girl who loved butterflies, shopping, swinging and Handy Manny.

The color pink will blanket the City of Groves for the sixth year in a row today for Avery Anne Guerra Day, held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bruce’s Market Basket, 6001 39th St. Sponsored by Debbie’s Dance, Etc., the event includes a link sale, bake sale, silent auction, car wash, T-shirt sale, washer board tournament, dunking booth and raffle. Guests have the opportunity to win a 50” Samsung Led HD TV, an HP Pavilion laptop computer and a $200 Visa gift card.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Avery Anne Guerra Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Avery’s parents, Ricky and Jennifer Guerra, that has thus far given more than $70,000 to help children in the community with heart defects like Avery’s. The foundation also presented college scholarships to seven local graduating seniors in 2013.

LifeShare Blood Center will be on hand for the fourth annual Avery Day blood drive. Last year, 76 people donated blood — saving potentially 300 lives in Avery’s name.

“LifeShare said they’d never had the response that they had for Avery,” Broussard said. “That’s what’s so touching — people are willing to literally give their blood for her.”

Avery underwent the first of numerous heart surgeries at just 9 months old, yet she never once complained or asked why, Broussard said. Thanks to the foundation, her indomitable spirit still prevails today.

“It was devastating when we lost her, but we look back now and know she had fulfilled God’s purpose for her life,” Broussard said. “Now it’s our purpose to make sure that her little life continues to make a positive difference.”

That positive difference is best illustrated by one of the silent auction donations — a fire pit, made by the father of a boy born in December with the same heart condition that Avery had.

“He put a heart on the front and cut Avery’s name out of it,” Broussard said. “When it’s used, the fire will shine through her name.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA