Long before Turlock eighth grader Breanna Mendoza’s story about being bullied at Dutcher Middle School made headlines last month, Craig Day was busy buying tickets for Taylor Swift’s 1984 World Tour.
These two events, which may have seemed unrelated at the time, came together on Wednesday evening when Day surprised Breanna with four tickets for her and her family to see the superstar live in August.
Breanna originally made headlines when her parents pulled her out of Dutcher Middle School when the eighth grader became the target of a number of bullying situations, including name-calling and physical threats via social media due to her facial deformity, Goldenhar Syndrome.
Goldenhar Syndrome is a congenital birth defect which involves deformities of the face and in Breanna’s case, the syndrome exclusively affects her ear, eye and jaw on the right side of her face.
According to Wendy Mendoza, Breanna’s mother, if a bully were to actually follow through with these threats and hit Breanna on the jaw, it could potentially cut off her airway.
“She can’t breathe, so this is a very dangerous situation,” said Wendy in April. “It’s not like a typical bullied child where when they get bullied or picked on, they get hurt. Her life is threatened at that point.”
The big reveal was the culmination of over two months of planning after Day, who had found himself in possession of four extra tickets to the concert, read Breanna’s story online.
“When I first found out about her story, I felt a lot of things. I was angry at the kids who put her down like that and I was stressed like any parent would be just imagining if it had happened to my own child,” said Day, “but most of all I was inspired.”
Instead of selling the four extra tickets as he had originally planned, he had a better idea: donating the tickets to Breanna.
What started out as only Day donating the Taylor Swift tickets to Breanna quickly grew into a daylong extravaganza once he reached out to local businesses, all of which were more than willing to contribute their services.
Modesto’s G&G Limousine has offered to chauffeur Breanna and her family to various locations on the day of the concert, all while Laura Mooney from The Best Days of Your Life Photography will be documenting Mendoza’s journey through photos. Mooney will be compiling a memory book with the photos she took for Breanna.
“Craig messaged me and told me what he was planning to do and asked if I wanted to be a part of it,” said Mooney. “It’s always good to do something nice for other people and it warms my heart to put a smile on someone else’s face.”
The first stop of the day will land Breanna and her family at Rivets American Grill in Modesto where they will enjoy a complimentary lunch prepared by executive chef Juan Tostado.
“We’ll make sure she gets an excellent meal before Taylor Swift,” promised Tostado.
After lunch, G&G Limousine will transport Breanna to Envy Fine Clothing in Modesto, where she will be given the opportunity to find the perfect outfit for the concert, and then to Skip’s Music in Modesto, where she will receive a free guitar just like Taylor Swift’s.
The fun doesn’t end there for Breanna, as she will then be whisked away via limousine to Aqua Bliss in Modesto. Once there, owner Erin Doran and her staff will happily prepare Breanna’s hair and makeup for the concert.
“I saw her story on the news and I was appalled at how she was being treated by the others students in school,” said Doran. “So when Craig reached out to me a week later, I immediately said yes.”
Once Breanna is all ready for the day’s finale, she will embark with her family to the show in Santa Clara.
After Day and representatives from several businesses involved in the “Breanna Mendoza Project”—as Day called it—gathered at Breanna’s house to reveal their plans on Wednesday, Breanna was understandably speechless.
“I love her and I love all of her songs,” gushed Breanna. “I definitely was not expecting this, but it makes me feel loved and thankful and happy.”
“This really is a dream come true,” continued Breanna.
Since leaving Dutcher Middle School, the eighth grader has received an outpouring of community support, including one family that has volunteered to pay for her to attend Turlock Christian Junior High School.
Mendoza was happy to report on Wednesday that she has been attending the new school for almost two weeks.
“I love it, it is seriously the best school ever,” said Breanna. “The people are amazing. It is not like a school, it is more like a family.”
“They really welcomed me there,” continued Breanna.