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June 7, 2013

Believing in a cure

Local teen raising money for AT/RT research hopes to meet his idol, Justin Bieber

The world knew her as “Mrs. Bieber.”

Now, Avalanna Routh’s legacy may help one Newburyport High School student meet his idol, as well.

Avalanna was the 6-year-old Merrimac girl with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT), a rare form of brain cancer, who “married” pop star Justin Bieber in a play wedding at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in 2011. The story became a national sensation, and Bieber was so moved by Avalanna that he pledged to meet the person who raises the most money by July 1 for Cure ATRT Now.

Avalanna died in September, but Bieber’s promise still stands, and 16-year-old Jared Bedard has jumped at the chance.

“My mind started going for Jared,” said Jared’s mother, Karen Bedard. “Because he loves music, he loves performing, and he loves Justin Bieber.”

Bedard brought her ideas to Beth Manning of Newburyport Youth Services, who in turn helped put together Facebook and Twitter pages for Jared, who has Down syndrome. Things began to grow from there.

“For Jared, it’s about him getting out there,” Bedard said. “Being in the community and doing what he loves. He just wants people to see him.”

Now, Jared has embarked on a fundraising tour that began last Monday at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, where he sang, danced and played the guitar to Bieber’s music. Orange Leaf donated 15 percent of its proceeds from that day to the cause.

“When Bieber first started out, before he got discovered, he used to do that,” Bedard said. “He would go play his guitar and sing. Jared has watched his movie (“Never Say Never”) so many times that that is what he wants to do. To sing in front of people and be discovered.”

Jared’s next event is at Not Your Average Joe’s on Tuesday, with the restaurant donating 15 percent of its proceeds from patrons who mention Jared’s name.

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