WEST NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A non-profit in Rockland County cooked up an amazing surprise for a little girl battling cancer. Hundreds of volunteers surprised her and her family with a trip to Disney World on Saturday.
10-year-old Zoey Nieves, of the Bronx, thought she was going on a tour of a cookie factory at the BOCES of Rockland County in West Nyack.
Almost a year ago, a lump on her leg turned out to be a rare form of cancer. She’s had to learn to walk again while going through a grueling regimen of chemotherapy.
“It makes me not feel good, and it just makes me down,” little Zoey told CBS2.
Her spirits went right up after the “tour” started off with the surprise announcement of a lifetime. More than 100 volunteers from Baking Memories 4 Kids served up the life changing news.
The group sells around 35,000 chocolate chip cookies every holiday season to raise money so kids like Zoey and their families can go on an all-expense paid vacation to Orlando, Florida.
“I felt happy, really happy,” Zoey said while wiping away tears of joy.”I love everybody that supports me and… it was just to make me happy and spend time with my family.”
It’s a boost for a girl who’s already given her family so much strength.
“People see her and she tells them ‘don’t feel bad, I’m strong. I’m a fighter’,” dad Joel Nieves said.
“There’s times you just want to lock yourself up in a room and break down,” mom Maria Villalobos said. “If she’s doing it and going through all of this, then you know what? That means we can do it too.”
The founder of Baking Memories 4 Kids, Frank Squeo, is also a cancer survivor. The announcement on Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of the organization.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I’ve done 61 of these this year alone, and we’re so blessed today to do it at our bakery.”
Squeo gave credit to the volunteers who get up on the weekends to spend the entire day baking cookies.
“It’s like Santa Claus times 100,” he said.
Squeo says they’re going to surprise 20 more families with the same news between now and Christmas.
For more information on the organization, or to see how you can get involved, visit THEIR WEBSITE.