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Mercy Student holds Bake Sale to Benefit Child with Brain Tumor

by cnewman

Orchard Park Bee  [ View Original Article ]

Elizabeth Colton is a freshman at Mount Mercy Academy.

When the Colton family read a newspaper article about an Orchard Park toddler battling a brain stem tumor, they felt compelled to help in any way they could.

"It just got to me. It just hit us right in the heart," said Dawn Colton, also of Orchard Park.

After reading the article about 3-year-old John Millen's condition, Colton visited the family's website and realized they were practically neighbors. Since her brother was also diagnosed with brain cancer, Colton sympathized with what the Millen family was enduring.

With 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth and 12-year-old son Adam in tow, Colton visited the Millen family's house and dropped off gift baskets to be auctioned off at a fundraiser, which was held for John last month.

"They were just so touched by the whole family," Colton said of her children.

The visit inspired Elizabeth to hold a bake sale to raise additional funds for John's medical expenses.

"I knew immediately that I wanted to do something," said Elizabeth, who called John "the sweetest little boy anyone could ever meet."

She received permission from her principal at Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo to hold the bake sale for two days during her lunch period. Elizabeth raised more than $70.

"I sold cupcakes, brownies, cookies and I had chocolate covered pretzels, too," said Elizabeth. Though she did the majority of the baking, friends and family helped in the kitchen.

Elizabeth said she was filled with happiness that she was able to help John and his family.

"Honestly, it felt great. I love helping people more than anything," she said.

Elizabeth is no stranger to giving back. In sixth grade she raised money to offset her uncle's medical bills. She is also a member of West Seneca's Youth Engaged in Service program.

"I'm very proud of the good heart that she continues to have," said Colton.

John's mother, Dawn Millen, said she is also touched by Elizabeth's gesture. Millen said that youth in the community have been showing their overwhelming support.

"Young people like Elizabeth who baked and sold cookies and brownies; or like the youth at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church who made bracelets to sell; and the Orchard Park High School cheerleaders who worked hard at the [fundraising] event are the kind of kids that we are raising John to grow up to be like," Millen said.

More than 400 attendees were present at John's fundraiser, which was organized in part by the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church and Echelon Marketing & Events at Michael's Banquet Facility.

Millen also noted that Special Spaces and Anthony-Brown Pharmacy created a first-floor bedroom in the Millens' house to better serve John's needs, and Rolly Pollies provided an unforgettable Christmas for John and his sister, Charlotte.

"We've met so many amazing people in this journey that have touched us so deeply. They will probably never know just how much a cooked meal or a kind card and hug have meant to us," said Millen. "People that would have otherwise likely have remained strangers in our community, have come out and rallied around John and our family."

John is currently well; Millen said he completed radiation in December, and is currently pursuing a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Through the trial, John would undergo an experimental surgical procedure to deliver a radiation treatment.

"Our doctors have told us that the radiation appears to have been very successful at shrinking the tumor and that we should expect to have some time with John over the next months that is happy and active," Millen said.

The family continues to update John's progress at www.johns-journey.org.

"Mount Mercy has positively changed my life forever. Through the inviting community, I was able to grow as a woman, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a member of society. Throughout my time here I have gained an education in both academic areas and life in general through the school's ongoing efforts to educate students on gender inequality, racial injustice, and environmental crisis'. Furthermore, Mercy has given me the space to gain confidence that 4 years ago I never would have guessed I would have. Mount Mercy has helped me take that initial step toward becoming the strong woman of color I am today. At Mercy you are more than just a student, you are whoever you wish to be."

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Class of 2022

"My future, success, and the ability to be an empowered woman in society come from Mount Mercy. My school is a strong foundation for my role in life. From attending Mount Mercy, I can say with confidence, that I will graduate with the mindset that I can accomplish anything. Mercy is my home and my sanctuary to be whoever I want. Mount Mercy has been bringing forth generations of strong intellectual women into the world, and I am more than honored to be one of them. Mercy teaches girls more than academics, but also about the world around us. As a mercy community, we give back to the world because it is our home. From my four years at Mercy, I have been educated on pushing for equality and peace and the understanding that there is no limit to what I can do. I have the confidence to go out in the world and make a difference because being a Mercy girl has given me that opportunity. "

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