December 11, 2013 - Shawn McGuire, owner of Guido's Premium Pizza in Oxford, was pleased that his customers were able to raise $1,252 to help the family of Nicole "Colie" Burton.
Guido's Premium Pizza owner Shawn McGuire (center) and Shelley Burton (right), mother of the late Nicole Burton. With them is family friend Dawn Campbell. Photo by CJC. (click for larger version)
"It was unbelievable how many people came in," McGuire said. "I've never seen anything like it. People really care."
Guido's donated a portion of its sales from Nov. 24-30 whenever customers mentioned the "Pizza for Colie" Facebook page. The money helped pay for Nicole's funeral expenses.
Nicole, who was a third-grader at Lakeville Elementary School, passed away on Nov. 8 after a five-year battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She was just 9 years old.
"It really touched me because it could have been my daughter. I have a daughter who's the same age, so it really gets to me," McGuire said.
"It's means more than anything to know that your community supports you – that you're not alone through this," said Nicole's mother, Shelley Burton, of Oxford.
Between Guido's fund-raiser and two other events held last month at the Great Lakes Kids Energy Zone and the Maximum Performance Training Center, the Burton family was able to pay all of the funeral expenses, plus some medical bills. The other two fund-raisers collected approximately $7,000.
"I didn't go through this alone," Shelley said. "The whole community stood behind us and grieved with us. That is the biggest comfort when you lose a child.
"When you lose a parent, you know they're older and have lived. When you lose a child, you have to face (the fact) that all your friends still have children. But it's a comfort knowing they know what that loss could feel like. You walk into a place and people come towards you to give you a hug; they don't turn away from you."
"I can't thank the communities (Oxford and Orion) enough," Shelley added. "I couldn't begin to name names because I think every person has done something."
The Burtons are now concentrating on "paying it forward" by helping others as part of "Nicole's legacy of kindness."
"Nicole was all about giving and sharing," Shelley said. "She's made a difference in this world."
They're passing out "pay it forward" cards that encourage others to commit good deeds and compassionate acts.
Each card contains two photos of Nicole and the message – "Pay it forward and leave the card. Let's see how many Kind Souls this one card can touch in Nicole's memory."
"We've sent some over to Afghanistan and we're sending them to every state," Shelley said. "Good things will come out of this."
Nicole's story touched many people outside of Oxford including some famous folks.
The Burtons received a care package from comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, a phone call from the punk rock band Green Day and an autographed photograph of actress/singer Selena Gomez for Nicole.
"My child was so blessed that in some way, her legacy has touched so many people," Shelley said. "Somehow her nine years (on this planet) has made a difference and touched celebrities' lives. We were blessed to have her for nine precious years."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.