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A little girl with big ideas raises money to fight cancer

  • Olivia Lacasse

    Olivia Lacasse

  • Olivia Lacasse

    Olivia Lacasse

  • Olivia Lacasse
  • Olivia Lacasse

Jen Lacasse found the little box with the bracelets made of thread inside and wondered what her daughter, 7-year-old Olivia, was up to.

Turns out Olivia, without mentioning anything to anyone, had decided to raise money for cancer research. She’d sell the bracelets, for $1 each, at the Maple Weekend, held last Saturday at the Ledgetop Sugar House, and she’d involve her entire family in the project.

The inspiration for this charitable endeavor? The owner of the sugar house, Dona Boudrias, a breast cancer survivor.

Her young neighbor in Boscawen wanted to get involved after hearing about Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

“Olivia was asking why would you give money for cancer, and she wanted to know how that works,” said

Jen Lacasse, a family therapist at Riverbend Community Mental Health. “I told her that you raise money for cancer research to help people get better. I told her that Dona is a breast cancer survivor. That’s when she came up with the idea on her own.”

Boudrias and her husband have been like grandparents to Olivia, Lacasse said.

“They’re wonderful,” Lacasse said. “We’re neighbors and we do a lot with them and we spend a lot of time at the sugar house and have cookouts.”

Speaking about Dona Boudrias, Olivia said, “She is very important.”

So Olivia, who loves singing, dancing, softball and soccer, began twisting and knotting and creating bracelets out of the string her parents had bought.

Then Olivia got the whole family involved, including her father, Gerry, and her 9-year-old brother, Aidan.

“She got us all making bracelets,” Jen Lacasse said. “We had family bracelet making night, with the four of us sitting around making bracelets. Some are more intricate than others. You braid them or twist them. They’re little cords or like threads.

“They’re like friendship bracelets.”

Once manufactured, Aidan took over the advertising campaign, spreading the word at Boscawen Elementary School that his sister would be selling them, and hot chocolate, at the Boudrias’s Maple Weekend.

Before that happened, though, Jen Lacasse learned that another neighborhood friend, Michelle Tanguay, is fighting ovarian cancer. So Lacasse told her daughter.

“She (Tanguay) was saying it was difficult for them to keep up with co-pays and expenses of being out of work and all that good stuff,” Lacasse said. “So Olivia said could we split it up.”

Which, inspired by Boudrias, meant funneling some money to the Payson Center for Cancer Care at Concord Hospital and some to Tanguay and her family.

For six hours on Saturday, sitting near the open front doors, Olivia sold her bracelets and hot chocolate.

Then, the next day, with the help of her assistant, Aidan, she went back and sold some more, raising a total of about $450.

“I told her to take the day off, and the next day she headed back over,” Lacasse said.

Asked why she had
put so much time and
effort into her bracelets, Olivia said, “I thought maybe I
could help people who had cancer.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@
cmonitor.com
or on Twitter
@rayduckler
.)

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