plays the violin at the Edward J. Madden Open Hearts Camp
in Great Barrington, Mass., earlier this summer. (Photo provided)
Sara Hutton of Hurley has always been an activist.
mother Anita recalls Sara
, who had heart surgery when she
was 15 months old, speaking out at a walk for the American Heart Association
at Dietz Stadium when she
was just 7 years old.
said, 'I'm here today to let you know that it's not only grownups who have heart problems, but kids do too!
I had open heart surgery when I was 15 months old and look how strong I am today!,'" her
, now 17, has used that strength to raise money and help numerous organizations.
latest effort is a benefit concert and silent auction to build a $3,000 gazebo at the Edward J. Madden Open Hearts Camp
, which Sara
has attended since she
"I just want to give something back to the camp because it's given me so much," Sara
The concert, which Sara
calls "Music From the Heart," is scheduled for 6 p.m. next Sunday, Aug. 9, at St. John's Episcopal Church
, 206 Albany Ave., in Kingston.
said the camp in Great Barrington, Mass., only has a swing set, and the children would love a place of their own.
"Right now there's really no closed environment where we can just go and be with the rest of the kids without any counselors around," she
"I was hoping that this would give them a space to kind of be away that's still safe and protected where they can be seen but not heard."
stays in contact with fellow campers during the year.
"It's been great to see other kids that have had the same surgery as me and how they're dealing with it," she
"Interacting with them kind of shows me how I can deal with having my surgery, even though it was a long time ago."
was just 8 weeks old when she
went in for a routine checkup and doctors heard a heart murmur.
was diagnosed with having a hole between the two bottom ventricles of her
suffered what doctors thought was an eating disorder, Anita Hutton thought it was something more.
husband, John, drove immediately to Boston Children's Hospital
, where Sara
underwent open-heart surgery.
has been fine ever since and has no restrictions on her
"I can go on roller coasters and I can play sports whenever I want," she
"I can basically do whatever I want to do."
mother agreed that her
past medical issues have given her
a "heart" to help others.
"I think being sickly as a child so much had a lot to do with her
inspiration in helping children," her
The list of organizations and projects Sara
is involved in is impressive and long.
works in daycare every day at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Hurley.
then focuses on her
fund-raising activities for groups like the American Heart Association
and one of its affiliated national groups, Mending Hearts Inc.
organizes a team teach year for the organization's fund-raising walk.
"That's what she
does every day," her
goes to work, I pick her
up, and we go to businesses or she
passes out fliers."
When the bad economy slowed donations to one of her causes, Anita Hutton recalled how Sara
said it was "unacceptable" and stormed out of the house to solicit door to door in her Rolling Meadows neighborhood.
came back and had a couple of hundred dollars on her
really outdoing herself with this gazebo project, but this is where her
That camp meant a lot to her
also has developed some unique fund-raising tactics.
was in the third grade, she
heard a story about a boy who delivered newspapers, and it sparked an idea.
"That kind of got me thinking that I could start my own newspaper and use it to raise money for other groups," she
The newspaper originally had 50 subscribers and she
charged 50 cents a copy.
It was hand-written (it's now done via computer) and included a commentary from Sara
, the weather and interviews with new neighbors or others she
felt had something to say.
even included ads.
would give the money to organizations, but, in recent years, she
used the money to buy a new violin to help with her
Last year, Sara
violin for 10 consecutive hours at the Hudson Valley Mall to help raise money for orphans in the African country of Tanzania.
church, St. John's Episcopal in Kingston, sponsored 70 orphans in the village of Nala and raised $25,000 for a library there; Sara
sponsors an orphan each month on her
own and helped decorate 70 gift bags her
mother and her
19-year-old sister, Lauren, delivered last year.
, who also has a younger brother, 14-year-old Chris, was too young to go, but she
put donation cans near the registers in the Kingston High School cafeteria to help raise money.
"When I saw the pictures that my Mom brought back, it really touched me that these kids had so little and were so happy with just having so little and it made me want to do something for them," Sara
Sara's generosity also involves just plain kindness.
orphan Stella after a woman she
used to know at a local nursing home.
violin at Ten Broeck Commons nursing home
and the Ulster County Infirmary.
mother, "The violin has been her
plays it everywhere for people to enjoy."
Sara, a member of the Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society, is also involved in the Kingston High School Orchestra and Key Club.
also sings with the College Youth Symphony at the State University of New York at New Paltz
also may use her
career to help people.
Sara has been considering attending Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., The College of St. Rose in Albany and Emmanuel College in Boston to study education.
After a recent visit to Boston Children's Hospital
, however, she
may become a child life specialist or an early education teacher.
"I just like to do things for other people," she
"It's actually mostly fun for me.
You would think that doing all of this stuff isn't fun, but my Mom and I have had a lot of fun.
"Every time I get a donation, it makes me happy because I'm one step closer to finishing the project," Sara
" I am her
uncle, and all I can say is Sara
is a real trooper!
will be a positive force for many people for years to come.
Uncle Bill "
We thank you Sara
for your tireless, efforts for others.