What if every child learned that helping others is an important part of life?
I want to share a story with you today about a wonderful girl named Willow and her ongoing mission to give to others. Willow lives in New Hampshire, and I know her mom from the school where I worked before retirement. I think that you'll agree that her parents are pretty special, too.
Willow, age 10, got together with a group of friends and raised money for the Susan J. Komen for the Cure Foundation, a leader in the fight against breast cancer. However, this wasn't the first time Willow has raised money for charities.
I'm going to let Willow's proud mom, Heatha, take the story from there.
|Willow's first donation to Locks of Love|
All photos are from Heatha's Facebook page, and are used with permission
Heatha: Willow raises money every summer and donates it to a charity... (Animal Shelter, Family Shelter, Food Pantry, Cancer Foundation). We have been doing this "project" for the past 4 summers.
Her charity givings started when she was 4 years old. Her hair laid 4 inches on the ground when she sat because it was so long. We decided it was time to cut it and decided we should "go big" if we were going to cut it. To her she was known for her hair and it was like another limb! So, we decided to make it so we wouldn't regret cutting it, we would donate it to Locks Of Love... this way we'd have no regrets. She did that and donated 17 inches and raised and donated some of her own money to go with the hair ($208). I thought it would be a one time thing, but she had told my mom she planned on doing it over and over again every time it was long enough. Sure enough, 2 years later she donated it a second time. AND 2 years later she donated it a third time and 2 years later donated it a fourth time! (donated at age 4, 6,8 and now at age 10) She plans to continue donating it for as long as she can!
|Willow (right) and her friend, Lilly|
Donation to Locks of Love again: Lilly's 3rd time, Willow's 4th
She knows the pain cancer causes. My dad (her Grampa Bob) died of Mesothelioma (cancer from Asbestos, he worked in the shipyards when he was 20. Died at 46.) before Willow was born. We tell her all about him. Our cat, Inny died of breast cancer when Willow was 5 even after 2 surgeries to try to save her. And my mom (Grammie) had stage 3 breast cancer which had spread to the lympnodes when Willow was 3. So, Willow had seen Grammie lose her hair due to treatment. Grammie is now a 7 year survivor! And more recently Willow's Nana had breast cancer and is also a survivor.
Each summer she also raises money for charities. We started this as a way to make sure she gives to others and knows that she is lucky for what she has. She LOVES earning money for charity and doing her part. She does bake sales, chores for family and friends, Mother's Helper, gardening, etc..... She always sets a goal to earn by the end of the summer... in the past it has been $100, $150 and this summer it was $200.
She decided to donate the money to the Susan G. Komen 3 -Day (a 60 mile walk in 3 days to raise money and awareness for breast cancer). She picked this one because four of her dance teachers were going to be participating in the walk and they each had to raise $2300 to do the walk. Some of them were having trouble raising the money and therefore were not going to be able to participate. So, Willow started earning her money.
It is hard to come up with ways a 10 year old can truly earn the money themselves. While thinking of ideas, I thought of a kid 3 day event, but doing maybe a kid 30 minute walk where they would register for $5.00. I spoke to Willow about the idea. and it grew from there. She got 5 other dancer friends involved and they went to stores asking for donations and to people and businesses asking for other donations.
|Baking cookies for the big event|
They made tee shirts so people would know who to go to for help during the walk. They named themselves THE SODA POPS (SODA stands for Steppin' Out Dance Academy). It turned out adults wanted to walk too. So, we opened it up to everyone.
The girls asked grocery stores for donations of watermelons that we could cut up and give out free to our walkers. Moms bought water bottles to give out free. The girls asked a rental place for helium tanks to blow up balloons for walkers to write the names of people they were walking in memory or honor of (any type of cancer). We started the walk with the girls each holding a bunch of the balloons and did a balloon release.
We even had about 20 items and gift certificates donated (hair salons, dance studio, themed baskets). We did 2 raffle tables.
|Willow drawing raffle tickets; her mom, Heatha, is to the right|
The girls were Willow Normandin (age 10), Lilly Farah (age 10), Sarah Hughes (age 10), Megan Lineham (age 10), Brianna Burke (age 9) and Rosie McKeen (age 7). Brianna, Megan and Rosie are all cousins and their Nana is a breast cancer survivor too and is one of the women who walked in the 3 day event. The kids are from 4 different towns.
On the day of the event, the girls set up and ran all the tables. They had the registration table ($5.00 per walker), two girls running the raffle tables, one girl at the baked goods table and two girls leading people in stretches.
|The girls ran the tables|
Since they are all dancers, they also kicked off the event with a short dance to get everyone pumped up...LOL..... We had 65 plus people come and walk at the event! People donated $5.00 to walk, bought lots of baked goods and raffle tickets, which were sold by donation. People who were unable to come to the event sent the girls money ahead of time or days after the walk!
|Walkers at the event--a BIG turnout!|
Willow had raised $240 on her own through chores, Mother's Helper, gardening for people on vacation, etc., and then the walk made another $800+ dollars. The total these girls raised and donated to Susan G. Komen was over $1000! They were very excited and had gotten together several times to make this event a big success!!!!
It turns out the money helped the dance teachers earn their registration for the 3 Day and they walked during our heatwave in the event! They were very thankful to the girls and wrote them thank you cards!
For the other girls it was their first time doing any kind of charity and they were totally into it and loved it. Their parents and grandparents were very thankful and proud of them.