Maia Bastianelli, a 10-year-old artist and philanthropist, took 3-year-old Carter Helmicki’s hand and led him to meet the hospital therapy dogs as she presented him with a stuffed animal puppy and framed canvas of one of her paintings.
Helmicki is a patient at Golisano Children’s Hospital, where doctors repaired a coarctation of his aortic arch when he was 5 days old. He will need more procedures to repair multiple holes in his heart.
The meeting between these two children was months in the making. It started when colleagues of Helmicki’s father, Jeff, heard about Bastianelli’s initiative to raise money for local children’s organizations through her artwork. They contacted her family and told them they would like a copy of one of her paintings. In return, they donated funds raised by their workplace union to the hospital in honor of the Helmicki family.
As Bastianelli and Helmicki bonded over their shared love of dogs, families, hospital staff and the colleague who connected the two children observed their special connection.
“Being able to help kids with health problems is so important to me,” said Bastianelli, a fifth grader at Park Road Elementary School in Pittsford. “When I can actually meet some of these kids in person, it makes me realize how grateful I am to do something to help them.”
Bastianelli started her philanthropy initiative several years ago with the idea of transforming her paintings into note cards and selling them with 100% of the proceeds benefiting children’s organizations. She has raised over $40,000 for Daystar Kids, EquiCenter and Golisano Children’s Hospital.
She received the Pittsford Pride Award, Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award and Outstanding Volunteer Award for Daystar Kids, and was featured in newspapers, magazines and TV news stories. Visit madebymaia.com for information.
Her cards can be purchased locally at A Different Point of View, 2920 Monroe Ave., Rochester; Chandeliers Boutique, 79 S. Main St., Canandaigua; The Gift Shop at Strong Memorial Hospital, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester; Main St. Cafe, 58 N. Main St., Honeoye Falls; Mead Square Pharmacy, 53 W. Main St., Victor; SJ’s Village Boutique, 25 S. Main St., Pittsford; and Wisteria Flowers & Gifts, 360 Culver Road, Rochester.
Cards are priced at $10 for six. All proceeds go to Daystar Kids or Golisano Children’s Hospital. Visit daystarkids.org for information.