Newest Endowment: Brenden Gorney Fund



“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up” …Jimmy Valvano

This quote was on Brenden Gorney’s twitter feed and gave him inspiration the last five months of his life. Brenden was a dynamic, friendly and smart 17 year old when he passed away on March 12, 2016, from a rare disease called Degos. To his families’ knowledge Brenden is the only person in the state of Michigan to be diagnosed with this disease. Degos is said to have been discovered in the 1940’s and only 200 people in the world have ever been diagnosed with it. His loss was not only felt by his family, but also his friends and neighbors.

After his death his mother, Paula Gorney, wanted to start a fund to carry on his name in his community. She shared this wish with a trusted friend.  Sadly, just over a year after Brenden’s death his mother passed away. Knowing Paula’s wish, her friend established, the Brenden Gorney Fund of the Otsego County Community Foundation. 

“I was given the opportunity by Paula to help impact the lives of others that live within Otsego County, and to make granting decisions that would have interested Brenden.” stated  the fund adviser. “The Otsego County Community Foundation was the logical place to start this fund. The reputation of the organization and the expertise that the staff has on endowments made the process painless.”

The fund will award grants to organizations that touched Brendens life.  Before the fated November morning when Brenden woke up to lost vision in his left eye, he loved to hunt and fish. He spent time with family and friends along lake shores, streams and in the woods doing what he loved to do. He appreciated the outdoors that Northern Michigan offered and was always happy hooking a fish or tracking a deer.

He was also huge NASCAR fan and even got to attend races in Talledega, Bristol, Kentucky and several at MIS in Brooklyn Michigan. His goal in life was to be the next Roger Penske, whom Make A Wish was able to get to visit Brenden just days before he passed.  The Make A Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the Renucci House organizations touched the lives of the Gorney family during Brenden’s illness.

“We look forward to working with the funds advisers to preserve the legacy of Brenden while strengthening the community that loved him. Each grant awarded will send a special message .” said Dana Bensinger, OCCF executive director.

The Brenden Gorney Fund joins sixty- four other funds under management at the OCCF.  Each fund established by individual donors wanting to make an impact in a specific area or local cause.  All funds are open ended which means additional contributions can be made.  To make a gift to the Brendan Gorney Fund or another fund visit or call 989-731-0597.

The mission of the Otsego County Community Foundation is to enhance the quality of life by building endowments, convening leaders and awarding grants.