Amanda Murray, a 15-year-old from Staten Island, has a disability but doesn’t let it stop her from doing what she loves, including baking and helping animals.
Amanda was born with ataxic cerebral palsy, a condition that causes trembling throughout the body and balance and coordination problems. She doesn’t use a wheelchair, but some tasks can be challenging, such as writing and other things that require fine or gross motor skills.
Despite her condition, the Tottenville High School sophomore is a very happy kid with a huge heart, according to her mother Diana Perone-Murray. In fact, Amanda, who loves to bake, made a difference in her community recently by organizing a bake sale to raise money for local animal rescues.
“Amanda is an animal lover. We live in a house full of animals with three dogs and three guinea pigs,” explains Diana, who also has a 9-year-old daughter named Brianna.
In November, Amanda got to work on launching her fundraiser. She spent a week in the kitchen following recipes and whipping up sweet treats such as pumpkin bread, banana bread, crumb cake, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-chip cookies and more all to help shelter animals find their fur-ever homes. Diana and support workers from A Very Special Place, a Staten Island-based organization that helps adults and children with disabilities, were there to help, but all of the culinary credit goes to Amanda herself.
The bake sale was held at the Murrays’ South Shore home the weekend of Nov. 6 and 7 and was a success. Amanda raised a total of $530 for the Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn and For Blake’s Sake, an animal rescue on Staten Island.
“We had a great turnout,” says Diana. “That first day, we actually ran out of items. So that night, we baked more for Sunday.”
It’s not surprising the bake sale sold out so quickly. Amanda made signs and posted them throughout the neighborhood to advertise the fundraiser, while Diana promoted it on social media.
So, what is it about animals that Amanda loves so much? Her answer is one that undoubtedly rings true for many people.
“I love that they are calming, and they make me feel relaxed,” she says. “It makes me feel very good to help them.”
Amanda plans to have another bake sale in the spring. Meanwhile, she just started her own small baking business called Rosie’s Sweets that helps keep her baking skills sharp. It’s still new, but she already had several sales in November. According to Diana, it’s not so much about the sales as it is the skills she’s learning while managing her own operation.
“She did well over Thanksgiving, and made herself a little money,” Diana says. “I’m trying to teach her business, such as how much money you’ll need and how much things will cost. Things like that.”
Amanda thrives, has a 94 average in school and works hard to overcome the challenges set forth by cerebral palsy. According to Diana, a lot of her success is also due to the work put in by a team of professionals who help her.
“She has a one-on-one para who is very familiar with her. She has a very good team of people,” Diana says. “The credit definitely goes to all of us. I can’t take credit for all of it.”