MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Confronting loss and grief is difficult at any age, but it can be especially hard for a child. Carley Watson was just 7-years-old when she lost her mom to breast cancer two years ago.
She recently decided to do something to honor her mom, and she inspired her whole school, Stormonth Elementary in Fox Point, to get involved.
Her third grade teacher, Mindy Makinster, helped Carley come up with the idea. The two have been close since Carley was in Mrs. Makinter’s class last year.
“I think Carley and I became friends because we both like school so much,” Makinster said.
When the two walk down the halls at Stormonth Elementary, it’s clear they have a special bond, all the way down to their matching pink shoes.
“Carley is an extremely amazing student who likes to follow the rules and do what's right,” Makinster said. “But she also likes to help when help is needed.”
So, when Carley needed help for a special project, Mrs. Makinster was there to help.
“Well, basically, I was thinking about sugar cookies for Santa,” Carley said. “Sugar cookies are my favorite and I was like, maybe I can do a bake sale.”
“I said yay! I love to bake cookies,” Makinster replied.
Once Carley hatched the plan, they baked dozens of beautiful, pink-frosted sugar cookies. And a lot of other teachers got involved, too.
“It was such a team effort, and it just goes to show you how much Carley means to so many people around this building,” Makinster said.
Carley held her Power of Pink bake sale in December, raising $368, and selling the cookies for .50 cents. She sent that money, and a letter, to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York.
At just 9-years-old, Carley knows more about love and loss than a lot of people. Her mom, Katherine, died when she was in first grade.
“She had brown curly hair, like me,” Carley remembered. “But when she had cancer, it was bald.”
Organizing the bake sale and writing the letter were challenging for Carley.
“She was amazing and I hope you can find a cure so we don't lose any more great people,” Carley wrote.
“I think it was brave. I think she was very, very brave to be able to do that. I think it was hard for her. But she did it,” Makinster said. “Now that it's over and she realizes all the joy that it brought her, she's going to want to do it again.”
A few weeks afterwards, Carley got a letter back from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, thanking her for her hard work and her donation.
“I was proud, not only for myself, but for my school, for raising all the money,” she said with a smile.
It’s a reminder that sometimes, little things can make a big difference, in both the fight against breast cancer and helping Carley remember her mom.
“She's going to be able to celebrate more and more and more with each time we do it,” Makinster said. “So if I can be invited to do it again in the future, I would love to.”
Carley said she does plan on doing something again for her mom.
“It made me very happy, and I also knew that my mom was proud of me,” Carley said.