Healing., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Romel’s photostream

It’s been said that while you can’t avoid adversity, you can decide how you will choose to react to it. It is the rare few, however, who take the most heartbreaking of circumstances and not only meet the challenge, but soar above it. The Williams Family has chosen to react to a dire personal situation by challenging us all to be our very best selves.


soaring heart, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Sheila in Moonducks’s photostream

Sheldon Williams is a retired detective for the City of Pittsburgh Police Department, an active member of Pennsylvania’s National Guard, and currently serves as administrative pastor at Allegheny Center Alliance Church. His wife, Fay, serves with the Pittsburgh Board of Education as a school teacher. Their daughter, Sheltaya, is an active member of the Air National Guard. Sheltaya’s daughter, Brooklyn, is currently being treated at Children’s Hospital for numerous complications resulting from a congenital heart defect. She remarkably continues to cling onto life with the support of the medical staff.

Of course, this situation has taken an emotional toll on their family. But, they have decided to try to make something good out of the situation. As Pastor Williams puts it:

We looked at this and we said Brooklyn needs a healing heart, and as we thought about that, what an opportunity to communicate a message that’s so broad, that most of us can also grasp onto because we all need healing hearts just as our baby Brooklyn needs a healing heart. So we came up with a challenge. We call it “Brooklyn’s Healing Heart Challenge.”


The family looked around at our world with it’s political divides, ethnic divides, neighborhood disputes – saw the hatred and violence – and knew that “we all could use a healing heart.”

They are just asking for us all to apply a bit of the old Golden Rule.

“Brooklyn’s Healing Heart Challenge” asks us to take the challenge to:

Try to exercise an act of kindness, an act of reconciliation, an act of redemption, and reach across the aisle to take the opportunity to do something nice for someone else.

They would also like you to consider giving to their fundraising campaign which benefits two local charities: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Center Alliance Church Children’s Ministries.

They ask that you spread the word of “Brooklyn’s Healing Heart Challenge” by using the hashtags:


You can hear more about their story in the video below.

Brooklyn from Allegheny Center Alliance Church on Vimeo.