WHEATFIELD, NY- Daybreak's "Great Kid" for the week is a student from Niagara-Wheatfield who noticed something was lacking at Roswell Park, and used her time and creativity to craft a solution.
Sarah LoCurto, a 15-year-old high school Junior, is a straight A student, who's a competitive dancer, and is always volunteering. But Sarah felt deep down she wanted to contribute more.
"I had been what can I do to get involved in the fight against cancer? What can I do to raise awareness, to help out," said Sarah.
The answer came to Sarah when she learned her family friend, Charlene Weishaupt, couldn't have any fresh flowers while receiving cancer treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute because they posed a health risk.
"What if we made ones out of paper?," she thought. "Because that eliminates the health risk and you still have beautiful paper flowers you can deliver to the patients."
So since April, she's sat at the kitchen table with her mother working on the flowers. They spend at least 30 minutes per flower, and they stopped counting when they made 300.
"I'm really just hoping it brightens peoples day. Flowers have been proven to help emotional and mental states, so I'm hoping the paper ones do just that," said Sarah.
Soon enough Sarah had a garden growing in her family room. And it was time to pack up the flowers and deliver them.
"I really cannot wait to see the reaction from the patients and their families who really aren't expecting anything," she said.
Finally, delivery day came last week. They brought hundreds of unique paper flowers to Roswell Park's Resource Center.
"Chemotherapy, infusion center, they can go to radiation, into patients rooms," said Resource Center Coordinator Martha Hickey. "All of our volunteers can pass them out, just spread the love and the joy that was made when they were all created."
Denise Filosofos, who is a breast cancer survivor and happens to be a friend of Charlene's, was the first flower recipient.
"Char would be extremely happy," said Filosofos.
Sarah's mother couldn't be more proud of her daughter.
"She said to me 'I just want them to know hope is blooming.' So I thought it was just profound when she said that," said Kim LoCurto, Sarah's mom.
Sarah's calling the charity "Because Char Smiled" after her inspiration who recently lost her battle to cancer. Her legacy will live on through these flowers.
"We really wanted to embody who she was and what she was to people. Being like a beacon of light, a sense of hope and that's what we're trying to be to other people," said Sarah.
Sarah's list of extra-curricular activities include dance competitions, studying for Regents exams, Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Boston, Pre-Pharmacy Camp and Camp Neuro at UB, Camp Broadway at Shea's, researching proteins at Hauptman-Woodward Institute, concert choir and vocal jazz in school, Vice-President of National Honor Society, student choreographer for the school musical, Interact Club, Performing and Visual Arts Society, and Y Roswell, and through all of that, she found time to make the paper flowers.
Sarah hopes to continue making the flowers with the help of school groups, youth groups and the Girl Scouts. If you'd like more information you can email Sarah at BecauseCharSmiled@gmail.com or visit the Facebook Page "Because Char Smiled."
If you'd like to nominate a Great Kid to be featured on Daybreak, email details to Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com or call 716-849-2216.
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