WINDHAM — She may only be 11, but Victoria InDelicato's personal experiences with cancer have made her wise beyond her years.
InDelicato, whose mother, Donna is a two-time breast cancer survivor, said she decided at an early age that she wasn't going to let her mom brave the battle alone.
After years of watching her mother and extended family participate in the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer each spring, the youngest InDelicato decided that she, too, wanted to help make a difference.Entirely self-directed, she completed a rigorous application process and was accepted as a member of the 2012 Avon Walk Youth Crew when she turned 10-years-old — the minimal age for children to participate on the team.
The Youth Crew is comprised of 16 kids from all over New England (ages 10 to 16) each charged with raising $500 on their own. The team also serves as a support crew during the annual two-day, 40-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, held each May.
This involved over 60 continuous hours of service work — setting up the walk infrastructure and tents, serving food and water, cheering walkers, cleaning up, motivational speaking on stage, and providing shared emotional support to fellow children of survivorsInDelicato, a Windham Middle School sixth grader, was one of 15 Granite State children to be recognized for making a difference in the lives of others through the Kohls Cares Scholarship program.
As a state finalist, she'll have a shot at winning college scholarship funds later this month, as well as donations for cancer charities.
While she awaits word of her status, the bright-eyed little girl, who has been dancing since she was a toddler and hopes to become a plastic surgeon when she grows up, is already in deep preparations for the 2014 Avon Walk.
During a recent afternoon in the family's kitchen, InDelicato pored over a colorful array of silk flowers, each one glued to a clip to be worn as a hair ornament or lapel pin.For the past two years, she and a small group of friends have been making and selling the flowers to raise further funds for her mother's walking team, Team BellaDonna."I've always loved wearing flowers," she explained with a grin. "So I thought it might be fun to make my own. It kind of took off from there."
Over the past two years, the girls have hand-crafted hundreds of flowers, each one a unique work of art boasting various color combinations and tiny rhinestones tucked behind each petal.
Thanks to the Internet, word soon spread of the girls' project and a craft company from the West Coast promptly mailed InDelicato a box brimming with free supplies.
"It was just unbelievable," she said.
Setting up shop inside Windham High School outside the March town meeting polls, InDelicato and her friends sold nearly $400 worth of flowers that first year alone.
Last spring the girls, known collectively as the "Flower Girls For Cancer," matched their previous year's sales, with InDelicato's father, John, even modeling some of his daughter's creations. Another $700 was raised through additional fundraisers, including a "Paint Party" event held about a month before the walk.Her efforts have truly come full circle, when three other "Flower Girls" learned a parent had been diagnosed with cancer. "We kind of look out for each other," InDelicato said.
With eight months to go before 2014 town meeting, she's already planning another flower sale.
Twirling an oversized, pink daisy between her palms, Donna Bramante InDelicato said her daughter's flowers have a particularly poignant meaning.
A pink flower is the official logo for Team BellaDonna, and during one of the team's earliest walks, each member wore an oversized, pink daisy.
"The flowers just keep coming back," the elder InDelicato said. "It's just such a hopeful symbol."For more information on the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program, go to kohlskids.com.AGuilmet@newstote.com