HOWARD — After her Aunt Marlene was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009, Olivia Bates knew she wanted to do something to help.
“We’re really close in our family, and I just wanted to do something to help so that we could try to prevent breast cancer from spreading,” she said.
Only 10 years old, Bates thought for months about how she could support her aunt.
“My mom, a long time ago, found out from some magazine how to make these pillows. And she made them for each one of us kids, then we started making them for Christmas presents. I thought maybe I could do the pillows for a way to raise money,” she said.
Bates decided to raise funds to support local breast cancer research with the hope that one day breast cancer will be totally wiped out.
“It’s actually going to Knox Community Hospital, Knox Foundation,” she said. “And it will be buying mammo pads to make it more comfortable for women who have mammograms done.”
“We were told that a lot of women won’t get mammograms because of how uncomfortable it is,” said Bates’ mother, Vicky. “The mammo pads are supposed to make it more comfortable for the women, so we are hoping more women will have it done for early detection.”
“It feels good to know I’m helping out,” said Bates.
She is also planning to have a kids fun day, including a miniature race for young people, as another way to raise funds.
“I’m home schooled and I would like to set up a fun day with my home school group to raise money with that,” she said.
Over the last several months, Bates has sold the pillows at different places around Mount Vernon.
“I’ve sold at Curves, and there have been people who have ordered some. And I’ve sold twice outside of Wal-Mart,” she said.
Bates said Wal-Mart has been a big help by providing donations to help her buy the materials to make the pillows, and allowing her to sell them in front of the store. She said she is also thankful for the help of her family — her father, Scott Bates, mother, and siblings: Matthew, Joselyn, Scotty, and Minda, as well as her grandmother, Terry Bates.
“And my sister, Joselyn, made oatmeal butterscotch cookies and sold them for a dollar. She raised $14 to help,” said Bates.
Thus far, Bates has raised $808.95.
“Originally my goal was only $200 and I didn’t even think we would get that much, but people were so wonderful. And some people would just come by and donate without even taking a pillow,” said Bates.
“We were shocked at the amount people gave,” said Vicky. “She sells these pillows on a free-will donation; we don’t have a set price. It’s whatever you feel led to give. We’ve had people who feel they could only spare 25 cents, and then we’ve had people who have given $20 for a pillow.”
Bates said she was greatly encouraged by the show of community support selling of the pillows, and hopes to continue with the fundraiser.
“This is really a wonderful community,” said Vicky.
Each pillow comes in different shapes and sizes, but they all carry the same message “FROG,” which stands for Fully Relying On God.
“It doesn’t really matter how young you are, you can still make a difference,” said Bates. “You have to believe in God and know that you can do anything if you believe in him. Miracles can happen.”
Vicky said she is proud of the time and dedication her daughter put into making the pillows and raising funds for a worthy cause.
“When she came to me and said that she wanted to make pillows, we were all for it,” said Vicky. “My husband, Scott, and I have a policy that if the kids want to give of themselves in anyway, we stand behind them 100 percent.”
Recently, the American Red Cross named Olivia Bates as Young Hero of the Year for 2009 for her efforts to raise money for breast cancer research and intervention.
For more information visit www.frogfoundation.com.