May 1, 2014— -- A 3-year-old cancer patient has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research with her homemade Mother’s Day cards.
Aubrey Castro has been battling leukemia since last May. She told her parents that she wanted to be a “mommy and an artist” when she grows up. So when she decided to help raise money for cancer research, her parents had a suggestion: paint a card for Mother’s Day.
“Ever since she’s been going through treatment, she’ll paint or color with crayons or makers,” said Aubrey’s mother, Vanessa Castro. “Even when she was at home and on steroids. She had an easel, it was painting and coloring… that’s how the cards evolved.”
Aubrey's father, Ivan Castro, said the family wanted to raise money for cancer research after finding out that the federal government only allocates a small proportion of funding to pediatric cancer research -- 3.8 percent, according to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Eventually, the family decided to make and sell cards and donate the proceeds to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which specializes in funding pediatric cancer research.
Aubrey only needed a little help picking between her two favorite subjects: flowers and butterflies.
“I want to paint three flowers because I’m 3," Vanessa Castro recalled her daughter saying. “She [wanted] pink and purple because those are her favorite colors… She already is such an artist. She does the flower in one stroke.”
So far, they've sold about 1,500 cards, with a goal of selling 2,014 by Mother’s Day.
If they fall short of their goal by May 11, they'll keep selling the cards through the year, Vanessa Castro said.
“She definitely is excited, every day when I get home she helps me assemble them,” she said.
Aubrey is still in treatment, but her mother said she’s responding very well to chemotherapy and was only hospitalized when she was diagnosed. She’s now in the maintenance phase of her treatment and hopes be finished chemo in July 2015.
The family plans to continue their fundraising efforts and will travel to Boston this year for the St. Baldrick's “Mommas Shave for the Brave,” where Vanessa Castro will shave her head alongside 45 other moms. The number 46 represents the approximate number of children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each weekday according to the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Vanessa Castro said she’s ready to get rid of her hair, but her daughter isn't as sure.
“[Aubrey’s] like, 'I don’t’ want you to shave your head,'" she said. "She hasn’t 100 percent warmed up to it."