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TJ Braden Legacy

The TJ Braden Legacy was founded by For the Love of Mateo (FTLOM) in June of 2016 in honor of the late TJ Braden. His twin sister, Danielle, was on a FTLOM mission trip at the time she found out of her brother's passing.  To honor his legacy and as a gift to Danielle, the June 2016 FTLOM mission team each personally donated money to FTLOM to establish a scholarship for eight children that live in San Bartolome to go to school.  


It costs roughly $100 to buy uniforms, shoes, and supplies for a child in Guatemala to go to school and many families do not have the extra to pay for that and so their children are not able to go to school.  The average girl in Guatemala receives a 2nd grade education and the average boy in Guatemala will receive a 5th to 6th grade education.  In rural villages many children are unable to go to school at all because their families need them to work.  In order for the cycle of poverty to stop, the children of Guatemala need to be educated.

The TJ Braden Legacy scholarships are assigned to the children based on need.  Iris, the founder of The Backyard School works in the community of San Bartolome to find children that are in need and will let the children know they will receive one of the scholarships.  Iris then works with For the Love of Mateo's (FTLOM) new Guatemalan Association, El Amor de Mateo and its legal representative, Claudia Flores to make sure the funds for the scholarships are all accounted for and the money donated and then sent onto Guatemala,  is distributed between uniforms, shoes, and supplies.  

For the past three years TJ’s sisters, Danielle Taylor and Jessica Swierczek, have raised funds to cover scholarships for 225 kids to go to school. Starting in 2020, The TJ Braden Legacy will be expanding so it can support other educational programs throughout Guatemala. In 2020, Danielle and Jessica have committed to providing a $5,000 scholarship to The Backyard School which will be used to sponsor fifty of the most in need children living in San Bartolome. Each child will receive a $100 school scholarship which will cover their shoes, uniforms, and school supplies.

Danielle and Jessica shared with FTLOM that TJ was a kind hearted, gentle soul, and loved children. At the time of his death, TJ did not have children of his own and his sisters felt that the TJ Braden Legacy would allow him to leave his mark by helping to ensure that children will have what they need to be able to go to school and further their education.”

In December 2018, Danielle and Jessica travelled to Guatemala on a FTLOM mission trip where they became aware of other educational projects in need of support. They felt a tug to expand The TJ Braden Legacy so that it could serve other children also in need. One of the outreach projects that was chosen was El Amor de Patricia. El Amor is an orphanage that feels like a home and is centered around faith and family. When you walk into this home, you immediately feel like you are visiting family. The TJ Braden Legacy is delighted to share that they provided funds to cover the fees for 19 children either living or supported through El Amor Patricia, to enroll in an accredited school for the 2019 school year. We look forward to watching the children flourish throughout the year!

A little about The Backyard School that helps facilitate the TJ Braden Legacy:

The Backyard School is an after school program/community center in San Bartolome that FTLOM supports.  FTLOM has raised well over $60,000 in funds and supplies for use towards building the school/community center as well as to provide them with school supplies, an oven, sewing machines, stoves, desks, chairs, shoes, backpacks, clothing, food and so much more.  Each FTLOM Mission Team that travels to Guatemala on our Missions of Love Trips will raise funds to provide various items that The Backyard School needs, in addition to bringing in donations and supplies.  Past team members have taken it upon themselves to raise funds for some of the bigger items that have been donated to The Backyard School, like the tables, desks, chairs, oven, etc.   The Backyard School works as an after school program for children in San Bartolome by helping them with their homework, feeding them and teaching them various skills that they can use as they get older.  In addition The Backyard School supports the mothers of many of these children that receive scholarships through The TJ Braden Legacy.   This program teaches the mothers skills that they can use to make a better life for their families, like sewing and cooking. 

By your donation towards the TJ Braden Legacy,  you are truly changing a child's life.  Through your help, we can change the world, one child at a time and TJ's Legacy can live on.  Thank you so much for your support! 

After you've purchased this sponsorship, to be added to the FTLOM Sponsorship List and be assigned a child, please send an email to Val Edwards at and mention that you've purchased this sponsorship.

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Jessica Swierczek and Danielle Taylor

We Need Your Support Today!

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