NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI (CBS) – From the heart of a little girl, a community comes together to help one family.
When nine-year-old Annie Connerton from North Kingstown, RI became friends with a little boy at school, it was the start of something extraordinary. And today we found out just how much of a difference that friendship has made.
The two kids are the definition of BFF’s, Best Friends Forever. That friendship started when Annie went up to six-year-old Mavrik on the school playground. “I started playing with him because he was cute and funny, and he never was sad,” Annie told us.
But Annie’s new friend had more than his share of serious health problems. Mavrik has Down Syndrome and has endured three open-heart surgeries.
When she learned that he was hospitalized with septic shock caused by an infection, Annie wanted to do something. So she made friendship bracelets. “They were for me and Mavrik,” Annie says.
The infection resulted in a lack of blood flow to Mavrik’s feet. Doctors were forced to amputate. “Then my Mom said he didn’t have that much money,” says Annie.
Mavrik’s family has experienced a cascade of misfortune. His father died of heart disease. His mother is caring for six children, and the family car was destroyed in a fire.
Annie knew just what to do, friendship bracelets. “I said, let’s sell them to people for $2 each,” she says. “She would come home and say, here’s $48. The teachers were buying them and the other children were buying them,” says Kathleen Connerton, Annie’s mother.
But it didn’t end there. Other kids joined the effort and so did other schools. Local businesses got onboard. A car was donated to the family, and it seemed like the entire town was helping.
“I keep thinking of that expression of the ripple effect, where one small act of kindness just grows,” Kathleen Connerton says.
“I’m just really thankful for everyone just being there and supporting us,” says Johanna Koundrakas, Mavrik’s mother.
And it all started with Annie. “It makes me feel happy, great and amazing,” she says.
On Friday, there will be a big block party fundraiser for Mavrik and his family, bringing the community together with a single purpose.