WHEATFIELD, NY — 2 On Your Side loves celebrating the "Great Kids" that make Western New York a better place to live. This week, we're revisiting a teen who started a charity inspired by a local cancer patient who couldn't receive a simple flower, and now her paper garden is blooming.
Sarah LoCurto, a junior at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, began the charity "Because Char Smiled" in April 2017, after a family friend, Charlene Weishaup, couldn't receive real flowers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute because they pose a health risk. So, Sarah and her mother created beautiful paper flowers, named the charity "Because Char Smiled," and delivered hundreds to Roswell to be handed out to cancer patients.
"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," Sarah told WGRZ's Melissa Holmes in November 2017.
Since Sarah's story first aired on Channel 2, her paper garden has bloomed. She is planting her seeds of creativity and compassion all across Western New York. She's visited than a dozen schools, Girl Scout troops, and 4H clubs so they all can learn how to make her flowers.
We caught up with Sarah again as she was holding a tutorial with the Kind Kids Club at Williamsville's Maple West Elementary.
"You can tell that they're just as motivated as my mother and I are with this project," Sarah said. "It's truly been amazing to see how the community has been wanting to get involved."
Thanks to all the help she's received, Sarah was just able to deliver another 1000 flowers to Roswell, bringing light, hope and cheer to each recipient.
"They thrill and delight our patients. Each one is made with love. You can tell," said Martha Hickey, Coordinator of Roswell Park's Resource Center.
Sarah tireless effort, along with her straight A's and other extracurriculars and volunteering helped her recently earn the Youth Leader of the Year award from Leadership Niagara.
She'd like to continue to teach other groups how to make her flowers so her garden can continue to grow when she goes away to college. She hopes to attend Princeton for neurosurgery.
To learn more about Because Char Smiled and to get in touch with Sarah, click here.