Once upon a time, there were two girls, a kindergartner named Lanie and a 3rd grader named Scarlett. Lanie first met Scarlett outside of her gym class and felt an immediate connection to her. She asked her teacher if Scarlett could be her reading buddy. What Lanie didn’t know was that Scarlett was battling cancer. She was in a wheelchair and had lost her hair, but none of that made a difference to Lanie. She simply liked Scarlett and wanted to be her friend. Lanie’s teacher granted her wish and the two girls quickly bonded. Even as Scarlett's condition worsened, she loved to read to Lanie, and Lanie always loved when Scarlett read to her. Lanie didn't know that Scarlett was sick. This sweet friendship between kindergartner and reading buddy held a special place in both of their hearts.
On March 27, 2019, Scarlett passed away. Lanie's parents, Heather and Michael, were heartbroken and fraught with worry over how to tell Lanie what had happened.Michael suggested that perhaps charity work would help Lanie process the news.Heather thought that sounded like a great idea but wasn’t sure how to get Lanie involved at such a young age. She also wasn’t sure how to tell her that Scarlett had lost her cancer fight.
Heather went to the local bookstore, Scattered Books in Chappaqua, NY, on the hunt for a children’s book about death. While speaking to the owner, Laura, and other employees, Heather had an idea: what if Lanie made bookmarks with friends and sold them at the store to raise money for sick children? Laura took it a step further and offered to host a bookmark-making event at the store. She also offered to donate all of the supplies! Together, Lanie, Laura and Heather brainstormed and came up with the name, Bookmark Buddies. Lanie was so excited to start raising money that she asked if she could have her event the very next day. Laura magically said yes!
The inaugural Bookmark Buddies event was a success, raising $300 and - more importantly - giving Scarlett's friends and children in the community a fun and creative project to help other children while honoring their dear friend. It is Lanie and her family’s dream to turn Bookmark Buddies into a fundraising organization, so that all children can feel empowered at any age to help others. This story is just the beginning!
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At Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley we envision a world where all children have access to the medical care they need, and their families are fully supported and actively involved in their children’s care. Thanks to our community of supporters we can offer families compassionate care by creating and running programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of sick children and their families.
When a child is battling a medical crisis, our House provides families with all the comforts of home and eases some of the burdens they face every day. Together, we continue to enable access to medical care for seriously ill children, allowing a family-centered care approach to treatment and giving families what they need most during this critical time -– each other.