By Jenna Lennon
Three years ago, Jericho Elementary School student Aubri Krauss decided to start a Band-Aid drive to benefit Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit.
She had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. At just over 3 years old, she toughed out the treatment, and when finished, decided she wanted to do something to help others.
“[I want to] bring smiles to other kids who are going through what I went through,” she said.
“We were at the pediatrician’s office, and she saw all the Band-Aids they had and she was like ‘You know what mom? We used so many Band-Aids when I was sick — wouldn’t it be great if we could get a bunch of Band-Aids for all the kids that are still sick?’” Aubri’s mother Darcy Krauss said. “When they have to get their finger pricked, those plain Band-Aids are boring. That was one of the great things for Aubri was she got to pick her own fun, kid Band-Aid.”
Last year, Aubri decided to try something different and hosted a wrapping paper drive for the events that the clinic holds for the children during the holidays.
Aubri decided to return to the Band-Aid drive this year because “she thinks it’s more personal to the kids,” Krauss said. When she began, she hoped to beat her collection of 700 boxes from her previous Band-Aid drive, and she’s done just that, collecting over 800.
“And they’re not all the little 20 packs,” Krauss said. “Some people brought boxes that have hundreds of Band-Aids, some people bought boxes that have 200 Band-Aids in it. So it’s a lot of Band-Aids.”
Middle Country Board of Education member Dina Phillips met Aubri in 2012 when her father was the assistant coach of her son’s baseball team.
“When I met Aubri, she endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy,” Phillips said. “She had to learn what it means to live part of her life in a hospital room, to lose her hair, and to lose some of the freedoms that other kids her age get to enjoy.”
“She endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy.”
She said she was blown away by how Aubri did not let her circumstances define her.
“With a maturity far beyond her years, Aubri turned her illness into an opportunity to help other kids like her, and turned her pain into a way to bring smiles to others,” Phillips said. “I am extremely proud of her. I hope we can all do a simple gesture and help her achieve her goal.”
Band-Aid drives were held at Aubri’s elementary school, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattress Store in Lake Grove, and Stagecoach Elementary School, where Phillip’s son goes to school. The students there decorated the box for a collection at Stagecoach’s 50th Anniversary celebration on June 9th.
“I think when you go through something so hard and you can come out on the other end and be empathetic and understanding … it just makes me very happy and blessed to be her mom,” Krauss said. “Everyone is like ‘she’s so lucky to have you as her mom,’ and I’m like no, I definitely think I’m the luckier one to have her as my daughter.”