A New York girl is on a mission to brighten the lives of cancer patients in her community.
Sophie Enderton of Newfane, New York, started her “Sophie’s chemo bags” initiative after seeing her late grandfather, Terry Enderton, undergo chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last October.
“She saw him kind of struggling and losing his hair and getting tired and just having to sit at chemo," Sophie's mom, Jillian Enderton, explained to "Good Morning America." "I think his chemo was two or three hours long and he was saying how many people were there just sitting around and she wanted to do something to help him and other chemo patients.”
So Sophie got to work and enlisted the help of her parents and maternal grandparents to help bring her vision to life.
She and her mom researched chemo-friendly care package ideas on Pinterest, while she and her grandparents went shopping for comforting items, like blankets, pillows, cozy socks, soup bowls, pre-made soups, mints, and ginger candies. Later, Sophie added games, such as playing cards and checkers sets.
Sophie’s great-grandmother even knitted several homemade blankets for the first set of “Sophie’s chemo bags” and as word spread, so did the donations.
“We received a lot of donations from people in the community, family and friends, so she's able to put a little bit more in there and have more extra money to do it again in December. She wants to do it again at Christmas also,” Enderton said.
Sophie made a total of ten bags for her first set to patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. The first bag went to none other than her beloved grandpa Terry.
“He was super proud of her and the work she was doing and wanting to help others,” Enderton recalled. “Very proud grandpa.”
"It’s truly inspiring how the power of a caring heart – even that of a 5th grader – can make a real difference in the lives of cancer patients," Martha L. Hickey, manager of Roswell Park's Resource Center for Patients and Families, told "GMA" in a statement. "Sophie’s devotion to her grandfather and those at Roswell Park through her Chemo Comfort Care Bags serves as an example of what we can all do to impact others in a positive way. What this young girl has done is a beautiful example of what our community here in Buffalo, the City of Good Neighbors, is all about.”
Sophie is making sure to carry on what she started, honoring her late grandfather in the process.
“He passed away in December after a short battle of pancreatic cancer,” Enderton said. “His birthday's at the end of March and we are scheduled to go up actually on his birthday and drop more bags off.”
For this second round of chemo bags, Sophie added 5 more bags for children as well.
“She wanted to do some for kids because she doesn't think it's fair that they have to go be sick so she wanted to brighten their day too,” Enderton said.
The 39-year-old mom said her daughter’s chemo bags project seems to be supporting her through the grieving process.
“She's putting her energy into something else so that's helping her, knowing that she is helping others who are going through the same thing. She's actually flattered by all the attention. She’s like, ‘I just wanted to help people.’”
Enderton said her daughter and father-in-law had a special bond and Terry Enderton would pick her up to and from school in his red Corvette, as well as attend all her soccer and softball games. “She just loves the time they really spent together. She says he was one of her best friends and he was there for everything,” she said.
“We just want to keep it going and do grandpa proud.”