8-year-old teaches classmates to make hope beads for cancer patients

Posted at 4:49 AM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 10:02:20-04

Hope beads are being made in mass quantity by an 8-year-old girl and her classmates at Gorrie Elementary school. For Sienna McHugh, it's anything but an arts and crafts project. It's an opportunity to teach her classmates about compassion f the r others.

"The one thing that you have to put in the beginning is these hope beads are made with love," said McHugh.

The beads are strung together in vibrant color with words like hope, joy, faith, and love spelled out - attached is a foam cut out of a heart with a special message written on it.

"So we can bring joy to them or happiness to them," said Ella Gisclair, a student at Gorrie Elementary.

Kyleigh Caracciolo knows what that's like, "Because my mom has cancer," she said.

So did Seinna's mom, Joy McHugh who's in remission. Sienna believes, "Everything happens for a reason," and says her mom's cancer diagnosis was the inspiration for the beads.

A few miles away from Gorrie Elementary school is where Sienna's newest motivation sits in a chair, hooked up to machines and IV's at Tampa General Hospital.

"I make prayer beads for cancer patients, and so at my school today I have the whole third grade make them... And so this is from a girl in my class," Sienna said as she passed a hope bead over to Rick Cumbie, a patient getting his last round of Chemo.

Cumbie was so overwhelmed by joy, he offered Sienna money for the beads,"Just out of appreciation," he said, looking up from the message he just read on the foam heart.

Alex Hernandez feels hopeful about the future.

"Taking a look at this, every day's going to remind me of my past, of something I had to go through and something that made a lot more stronger than I used to be," he said.

Sienna hopes this education encourages everyone to get regular check-ups and early screenings.

How many eight-year-old's can say that they are changing lives? "Well now about 100 after this today," said Sienna, taking the question literally.

Sienna is making a website so people can request the beads. She also has a GoFundme page to raise money for more beads and string.