Daughter honors father’s memory

BY KEREN DOUEK

STAFF WRITER

When Michelle Barbaud first came up with the idea for her bat mitzvah project, she was afraid it was “stupid.”

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“I thought my friends would think I’m a loser,” she said.

But Michelle decided to go through with the project, and create flyers announcing she would be collecting money for the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) in memory of her late father, Daniel.

“I decided to do it because I would like to help somebody else who has a brain tumor,” Michelle said, “and because I miss him.”

Michelle’s friends did not laugh at her at all. In fact, she and her mother, Brenda Barbaud, were quite surprised to see the students’ reactions.

Daniel passed away on June 11, 2003. Brenda said that everything her daughter does, “always centers around her dad.”

“Everything Michelle writes about mentions her dad; her speech, her prayer. She’s doing a homework assignment on why she likes shopping, and she mentions her dad. Everything always seems to involve him somehow,” she said.

And so the Barbauds figured it only fitting that Michelle’s bat mitzvah project be about her dad.

“We didn’t know what she was going to do, and we were talking with one of her friends who told us she helped with bingo at a nursing home, and Michelle said she didn’t want to do that. She wanted to do something with brain cancer, because that is what her daddy died from,” Brenda said.

Brenda had recently gotten involved with ABTA, and so they decided to raise money for the association by creating flyers about the cause.

After writing up the information the women went to Kinko’s to lay it out and make copies.

“Michelle told someone at Kinko’s what she was doing,” Brenda said, “and this woman went to the manager and they did the layout at no charge. It’s usually $90 an hour for that. Then, I was going to do 1,000 copies in black and white for $60 and they said don’t worry about it and did 1,000 in color for no charge.”

The Barbauds decided to send the flyers to Michelle’s school, Parkway Central, and Ladue, where she had attended previously. The principal at Parkway Central put the flyers out, and the one at Ladue said they were having a “meet the teacher” event and offered for the Barbauds to have a table at the event and hand out flyers.

“We sat at the table for two hours, and made almost $200,” Brenda Barbaud said. “At first we were all depressed because nobody was coming over, but once people started taking flyers and making checks or leaving cash, or even just taking a flier, she livened up a little bit.”

The Barbauds also put an ad in the Jewish Light about their campaign. They said they were moved to see peoples’ reactions.

“One woman came up and said her son had brain cancer,” Brenda recalled. “Another woman said she thought it was great what we were doing, and she had lost her father to brain cancer.”

They were especially struck by Michelle’s classmates’ reactions.

“When she was at Ladue, some of her friends thought it was awesome what she was doing, and one friend gave $10 out of her own money,” Brenda said. “She knew it was what she wanted to do, but felt like it was stupid being there and having her friends see her sitting there, raising money. But when she saw her friends reaching into their pockets, not their parents’, and kids taking flyers, that really changed the way she looked at it.”

Michelle said: “I don’t think it’s stupid now.”

Checks can be made payable to: American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) In Memory of Daniel Barbaud, 1221 Still House Creek Rd. Chesterfield, MO 63017.”

Keren Douek is a staff writer and can be reached at [email protected]