VESTAL, NY – After suffering from a tragic loss, a Tioga Hills Elementary student discovered the doing random acts of kindness can totally change someone’s day.
As NewsChannel 34’s Emily Venuti shows us, you’re never too small to have big dreams.
10 year-old Ben Cucci is like most 5th graders – he’s an athlete, enjoys being on his school’s student council – but there’s one very different thing about Ben.
He runs his own non-profit.
In 2016, Ben’s little brother, Nathan was born, and tragically died 9 days later.
“I got the feeling that he wouldn’t be remembered so I started this because I noticed there was a problem in the world with people not being as kind as they could be,” says Ben.
Ben created Nathan’s Butterflies in memory of his brother, and it’s been a legal non-profit for the past 3 years.
Nathan’s Butterflies focuses on doing random acts of kindness for the community, with lots of support.
Rhonda Rhum is a counselor at Tioga Hills Elementary, where Ben is currently a student.
She says that before the pandemic, Ben and executive board worked to secure a large number of school and cleaning supplies for his fellow students.
“The Nathan’s Butterflies supplies are always a reminder of kindness because we use them quite often,” says Rhum, who adds the Clorox, sanitizer and additional cleaning supplies were able to be sent home with students when they came to pick up their lunches during the pandemic.
Ben says he raises money through picnics, raffles and other fundraising events.
He adds he has an executive team made up of other kids – making the organization truly by kids for kids.
Tioga Hills principal Hayley Crimmons says she’s in awe of all Ben has done.
“It’s humbling…when you think of all the things that this young man at only 10 years old has accomplished…and like he said, he’s an athlete, he’s involved in many different things, he makes the decision to spend his time doing these things,” says Crimmons.
Ben is clear he doesn’t do it for the praise – it is truly about helping other people, the way their family was helped while Nathan was in the hospital and the aftermath involved.
“I don’t really do it for the awards or anything. Awards just come if you put time into it,” says Ben.
Ben is a true example of how kindness and compassion can change the world.