Unsung Heroes come from every corner of Westport. They’re in every walk of life — and of every age.
Today, “06880” honors 3 Westport students.
Brett Malizia is a 4th grader at Long Lots Elementary School. His friend and classmate Eden Kopreski was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
As soon as Brett heard, he told his mother — Westport native Ursula Richards Malizia — he wanted to help.
Before I learned Eden had leukemia, I cared about cancer, but not as much as now. When you learn a friend has cancer, it changes everything. I want to do this because I want every child to be healthy, especially Eden.
Eden has always always been very nice, kind, and funny. She’s such a good friend.
I also know how awful it is to experience being hospitalized and having needles because this happened to me when I was younger with stomach problems. This made me feel so bad for her, so I wanted to figure out how to help.
The 2 families met. Brett decided to run in the Faxon Law 5K Road Race at Jennings Beach on Saturday, June 1. Eden will join him. So will Eden’s twin brother Gavin, her older brother Lucas, and Brett’s mom.
The next day, Brett and his mother will be back — for the Faxon Law half marathon.
They would love having fans cheer them on — or, even better, joining them as they run and walk. (Click here for more information.)
Eden’s family started a GoFundMe page. Part of the money raised will go toward her medical care. Some will also be donated to a leukemia survivor organization. (Click here to help.)
“I want Eden to be healthy and have a great life,” Brett says. I hope a lot of people contribute to this fight against leukemia and mostly to help Eden.
Brett Malizia and Eden Kopreski: You are true heroes!
So is Julia Davis.
Though the Staples High School sophomore is busy with dance, Best Buddies, homework, family obligations and friends, she always finds time for AWARE.
That’s the great local organization (the acronym stands for Assisting Women Through Action, Resources and Education) that each year partners with a different non-profit, for a variety of events.
Julia joined AWARE KIDS — the youth arm — as a Kings Highway 5th grader. Her volunteer efforts included preparing diaper bags for new mothers at Malta House, and cooking international recipes with women at Caroline House.
Julia also works at the annual AWARE fundraiser, and recruits friends to help. She began as a greeter. This year (June 1, Burr Mansion in Fairfield) she has a key role.
The event will help the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. For over 100 years, CIRI has served newcomers to America, and helped them thrive.
Julia has played an active role in Staples’ CIRI Girls’ Club. Each month, CIRI girls ages 10 to 20 join high schoolers to practice English, and enjoy activities like yoga and arts and crafts. The Staples girls also provide homework help and dinner.
Strong bonds have formed. Julia texts her new friends between meetings. She sends them inspiring message. They in turn inspire her.
Combining two of her passions — dance and volunteering — Julia recently led a Girls’ Club dance session. She got even the shyest girls to participate — and 25 AWARE women, who had planned only to watch. Julia created a specially choreographed number just for them.
Right now, Julia is focused on making AWARE’s “Hope Starts Here” June 1 fundraiser a success. She tells everyone she knows about the food, dancing, raffle — and hearing the immigrant and refugee girls talk about their experiences.
Julia is a true Unsung Hero too. To support her efforts and help the AWARE fundraiser, click here.
(Hat tips: Lindsay Shurman and Amy Saperstein)