As his birthday approached, a young man in Del Rio had an idea, a selfless wish in line with his sister’s generous initiative started a few years back, shortly before she passed away at the age of eight.
Benjamin Hester’s sixth birthday wish is honoring the legacy of his late sister Brooke, who passed away battling neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that develops from immature nerve cells and is found in several areas of the body.
Neuroblastoma most commonly arises in and around the adrenal glands, which have similar origins to nerve cells and sit atop the kidneys. However, neuroblastoma can also develop in other areas of the abdomen, chest, neck and near the spine, where groups of nerve cells exist.
During Brooke’s short but impactful life she taught others the power of caring. Every birthday since she was diagnosed with cancer at 3½ years old, she wished other children under treatment would find happiness and hope.
Brooke would always find ways to wish for headgear for children to wear on their heads along with a smile, or to raise funds needed for pediatric cancer research. Her thoughtful wishes were blossoms for the girls and headbands for the boys.
Now Benjamin is turning six, and he recently announced his birthday wish to his mother Jessica Hester: For people to come and make gold blossoms honoring his late big sister.
“I want to give gold flowers,” Benjamin said during an interview at the News-Herald.
Asked about his time along Brooke’s side, Benjamin recalls their time together “I liked being next to her. When she was four she almost went to heaven, but not quite,” he candidly said.
Brooke’s generosity inspired Brooke’s Blossoming Hope for Childhood Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that has reached over 102,000 children with cancer in 52 countries with handcrafted headwear and given over $350,000 to support pediatric cancer research.
Now Benjamin has chosen to give up his own birthday to make this wish to help other kids with cancer, which Brooke called “lumpies.”
“I want lumpies to go away,” Benjamin said.
The foundation is partnering up with a local restaurant to host a fundraising event on Aug. 5, from 4-9 p.m.
“We approached Mr. (Skip) Baker, and he has been so generous,” Jessica said.
During the event, for every person that comes to Mr. Gatti’s to help Benjamin make gold blossoms for his birthday and eats and Mr. Gatti’s mentioning or bringing in one of the flyers, the restaurant will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from the entire meal ticket sale to help more kids with cancer.
The gold blossoms were chosen because of their special significance, and due to the upcoming Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed in September.
“Many people do not realize that gold blossoms represent hope for pediatric cancer, not for a specific type of cancer but all of them across the board,” Jessica said.