The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

September 5, 2013

Sharing courage: Local girl continues to collect coins for kids with cancer

Sydney Newton, 9, has a string of beads that wraps around her neck four times.

The Creekside Elementary fourth-grader is truthful to those who ask — “The beads are heavy,” she said.  However, despite the weight of the beads, each one is particularly special to Sydney. Each bead tells a story of strength, honor and hope.

Sydney, the daughter of Jamie and Cynthia Newton, is a childhood cancer survivor. She has been cancer-free for almost four years.

At age 5, Sydney was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma. It was during her treatment that she was introduced to a program called Beads of Courage through Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.

Beads of Courage was created to help children with cancer, their families and clinicians to cope with the difficulties that come with the disease.

The beads on Sydney’s strand were accumulated during various steps in her journey to become cancer-free. Her latest additions include a couple of beads that she acquired after undergoing an MRI earlier this year.

“I got a special bead this year too,” Sydney said, adding it was given to her from Jean Baruch, the founder of Beads of Courage, at a Celebration of Courage party in Birmingham. “It’s my dream bead.”

Sydney described it as a white heart with a rainbow on one side and it includes dots of colors — red, yellow, green, blue and purple. She said the bead is special to her just like the beads other children requested such as a model of the Star Trek Enterprise and those that pay homage to Taylor Swift or other favorite things.

At the event, a bead — specially designed by Sydney — was given to children who are currently undergoing treatment. “It’s a ladybug,” Sydney said, describing how they were special to her when she was sick. “Seeing ladybugs make you happy and lucky.”

Cynthia, Sydney’s mom, also gave away special beads at the celebration. “She gave mother’s beads,” said Jamie. “We sponsored 75 beads that were all packaged with a special note from Cynthia. The beads were given to mothers with children undergoing treatment.”

The Newton family, including Sydney’s brother Dawson, currently travels to Children’s Hospital every three months. “It gives us the opportunity to meet families and talk and encourage them,” Jamie said. “Lots of parents are having difficult times.”

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