Friends, community rally to help family of North Carolina EMT, mother who died from COVID

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Thursday was a busy night at Texas Roadhouse in Fayetteville as people gathered to celebrate the life of an EMT who recently died of COVID.

“The fact that this many people will come out to support the cause. She touched every life. Every life,” said Megan Relyea.

Relyea and Taylor Brawdy helped organize the event at the restaurant.

“Once things got a little more serious, my lieutenant and I actually sat down and thought of fundraiser ideas,” Brawdy explained.

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The event was a benefit dinner with proceeds going to help Vanessa Burris’ family.

Brawdy and Relyea were Burris’ friends.

“She is my sister. She is my sister from another mother,” stated Brawdy.

Burris was an EMT with Cumberland County EMS of Cape Fear Valley Health. The mother of two contracted COVID-19 recently.

Friends told CBS 17 that she spent weeks in the hospital fighting for her life.


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“She was always just a bubble of happiness,” said Relyea while smiling and reminiscing.

“She was set out to accomplish a goal so she could provide for her family. She always had open arms for anybody,” added Brawdy.

Burris lost her battle with COVID on Aug. 10.

She was 31 years old.

Now, friends and the community are helping her family shoulder the financial burden.

As COVID cases continue to rise statewide, Brawdy and Relyea have this message.


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“Wear your mask and social distance,” Brawdy said.

“It’s still real. It’s definitely still out there,” Relyea also mentioned.

Before the dinner, a celebration of life for Burris was held. Friends told us they are continuing to raise money to help Burris’ family.

According to a Facebook post in part that was shared with us:

“To anyone who wants to donate directly to Vanessa’s family. Her mom is accepting donations through her CashApp $LindaNatole.”

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