Weston Second Grader Battles Cancer with Butterfly Bag

A portion of the proceeds from bag sales will go toward cancer research.

A second grader whose artwork can be found all around her family's Weston house has now found a wider audience for one of her colorful creations.

Starting June 7, a drawing by Samantha Burns, 7, will adorn a reusable shopping bag offered for sale through the 11th annual HomeGoods Helps Families Fight Cancer program. The bags cost 99 cents, with 50 cents of each purchase going to the Jimmy Fund.

It was Samantha's butterflies in the sky of a drawing she did that caught the eye of those looking for designs for the HomeGoods bags. Her bag, now in stores through June 30, has a white background and butterflies colored in purple, pink, yellow, orange and blue.

Burns' connection to the Jimmy Fund is a personal one. In August 2011, Samantha was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and has been a Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund Clinic patient since. She is expected to get treatment there every few weeks through August 2013, said her mother, Catherine Burns.

"We're looking forward to the days when she's not feeling so sick and can go out and enjoy being a kid," Catherine Burns said.

Despite battling leukemia, Samantha has looked for ways to help other sick children, her mother said. Last year she told her parents the family should take part in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk, after seeing a poster for the event at the hospital.

That statement resulted in the family's formation of the "Strong Samantha" team, which raised more than $25,000 for cancer research, to top all teams for money raised. A "Strong Samantha" banner can be seen hanging outside the Burns' Weston home.

Samantha also noticed some kids in the hospital who didn't have toys, said Catherine Burns, after Samantha landed in the hospital in December with a serious infection.

Teaming up with her teacher, Woodland's Melissa Carbone, Samantha conducted a teddy bear drive at the school, and delievered the bears to children in the hospital's cancer unit.

"She was in the ICU fighting for her life, but was thinking of other kids," said her mother.

Samantha, when asked why she likes to help others, responded with a simple "it's fun" and "it makes you feel good."

Samantha is also a Pedal Partner for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Pan-Mass Challenge, and got to go to Fenway Park in May to meet Wally the Red Sox mascot.

Catherine Burns said she hopes people will buy the HomeGoods bag with Samantha's design on it. As summer vacation approaches, Samantha said she's looking forward to spending time drawing, playiing Wii and visiting Storyland in New Hampshire, she said.

"She's just a very strong kid," Catherine Burns said. "She's determined to do well, and she's inspired a lot of people."


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