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Clay eighth-grader collects Crayola products for Golisano Children’s Hospital

Ryan Gilbert, 13, of Clay, poses with the 321 boxes of Crayola products he’s collected to donate to the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. Gilbert collected the crayons in memory of his cousin, Bianca Bresadola, who passed away at age 7 after a battle with osteosarcoma in December of 2008.

Ryan Gilbert, 13, of Clay, poses with the 321 boxes of Crayola products he’s collected to donate to the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. Gilbert collected the crayons in memory of his cousin, Bianca Bresadola, who passed away at age 7 after a battle with osteosarcoma in December of 2008. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— Four and a half years ago, Ryan Gilbert witnessed something no child should have to see.

Ryan watched his cousin Bianca Bresadola, 7, as she first became sick from osteosarcoma. He and his sister Lauren, as well as Bianca’s twin sister Mia, watched as Bianca fought valiantly against the disease, only to lose the battle on December 3, 2008.

Ryan doesn’t like to talk about his cousin, to whom he was very close. But Ryan, now 13, is showing his feelings for her in another way.

“People have been telling me that there is a doll fundraiser, but I wasn’t really into it,” Ryan said. “I heard that the money goes to the hospital for art supplies and stuff. It’s Crayola only, so I decided to give back and see what I can get. My goal was 100. The goal is 500 right now. And it’s really exciting. It’s just a fun thing to do. I know it goes for a good cause.”

Ryan first learned about the All Dolled Up Fashion Show last month. The fundraiser, put on by the Shades of Orange children’s art studio at Drivers Village, will auction off American Girl dolls to raise money for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Bianca’s family was able to acquire a retired Mia doll, which will be auctioned off. The Child Life program uses art and play to help kids deal with their fears and meet their social and developmental needs.

“Being a boy, I wasn’t really into the doll part,” Ryan said. “But seeing what I’ve been through, my cousin died of cancer, I wanted to raise money for [Golisano]. It’s just a good thing to do.”

So Ryan and his mother, Terri, drafted a letter outlining his plan. They emailed it to friends, family members, Terri’s co-workers and anyone else they could think of that might be willing to donate. Ryan also started texting all of his friends to get them involved.

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