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A Reisterstown Woman's Drive to Fight Childhood Cancer

A Reisterstown woman supports children fighting cancer and their families all over the country.

Caterina Grove said she finds strength in the children she knows who have had to battle cancer.
Caterina Grove said she finds strength in the children she knows who have had to battle cancer.
Reisterstown resident Caterina Grove turned her card-making hobby into a national program that brings smiles to the faces of children fighting cancer across the country. 

She may look petite and reserved but Caterina Grove is a fierce advocate for families who have a child with cancer. She has taken on the task of being a caregiver in spirit and emotional support. She has taken children around the country under her wing, sending them prayers and positive thoughts as they fight for their lives.

She is working especially hard in September - Childhood Cancer Awareness Month - because she said she wants people to understand that child cancer research is terribly underfunded, and cancer treatments are especially hard on children.

Grove said that about five years ago she got caught up on an internet chat board where she was encouraged to send positive thoughts to a child with cancer. She did, and it was the beginning of a journey that would inspire her to help Aaron Ruotsala start a foundation in honor of his 3-year-old son who died of cancer.

Caterina said it was a no brainer when Aaron asked her to help him with the foundation he started so that his "son would not die in vain."  She said she decided to put her cards to good use for Cole's Foundation

"Shortly after I got involved I began sending cards to people," Caterina said. "Before I knew it, I was sending packages, and a lot of them." 

She pioneered the Cole's Foundation's Send-A-Smile Program which quickly grew into a well-established program reaching hundreds of children with serious illness across the country.

Caterina said that eventually the volunteer work overwhelmed her -- she was working 12 hour days, seven days a week. So she handed off some of the responsibilities to other volunteers, but she still makes and sends 10-20 care packages a month and she travels around the country personally to visit families supported by Cole's Foundation, according to a foundation news release. 

Caterina said she is moved by the strength she sees in the children fighting cancer. 

According to Caterina, everyone at the foundation is a volunteer. She said she wants to see the spotlight on the children and not on herself. 
 
"[Caterina] has given so much of herself to support children in need, and her story is nothing short of inspirational," a Foundation representative said. 

Cole's Foundation offers many services and supports for families with children fighting cancer. 

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