Most seven-year old girls are worried about things like playing with their dolls and which friend is coming over to play or spend the night. But when Caitlyn Rennix of Valley Bend heard that her bus driver was battling with cancer, she set out to do what she could to help.
Caitlyn's mother, Laurie Rennix, said her daughter's love project began just before Halloween.
"Caitlyn came home and said she was concerned because her bus driver, John Jones, had missed a few days from work," Laurie Rennix said. "I called and found out he was diagnosed with colon cancer."
Caitlyn Rennix heard her bus driver was battling cancer, so she set out to do what she could to help. So far, Rennix has raised more than $2,300.
Laurie Rennix explained the situation to her daughter, who immediately told her she was going to sell some pictures to raise money to help Jones.
"We bought canvasses and paints and brushes, and Caitlyn went to work making her pictures," Laurie Rennix said. "I thought this was a great thing and was surprised that she stuck with the plan to finish. Most young girls would lose interest after so long."
Around this time, Caitlyn met Eloise Mann from the Cancer Support Group in Elkins.
"Caitlyn was very impressed with Eloise Mann and the things that the Cancer Support Group does in Elkins," Laurie Rennix said.
"Since John did not need help because he has good insurance, Caitlyn decided to give the proceeds of her project to the Elkins Cancer Support Group so it would help multiple people who are going through cancer. Caitlyn also wanted to purchase a brick in honor of John to place in front of the Davis House."
Laurie Rennix said word of Caitlyn's project spread, and lots of folks donated foods and items for her sale.
"Caitlyn painted about 40 pictures that she sold on Dec. 8 at the craft sale at Homestead School," Laurie Rennix said. "We went to Crazy Harry's to ask for a fruit basket, and Rocky Akers donated an Amish Oak Rocker that was raffled. Donna Canfield donated a plush snowman family to raffle. Caitlyn's grandparents helped with goodies for the sale such as hot chocolate and no bake cookies. Linda Hedrick donated a handmade bear and lots of our friends, relatives, coworkers and neighbors helped as well."
Laurie Rennix said Caitlyn has been artistically talented all of her life.
"She loved to color and play with clay ever since she could hold a crayon," Laurie Rennix said. "Last Christmas Santa brought her an easel, and painting has been a hobby for her every since. She loves the ArtsBank program in her class at Homestead School and loves music as well."
Jones has one of Caitlyn's first pictures she made.
"It is a haunted house with a ghost and cancer ribbons," Jones said. "Each picture that Caitlyn paints has a story behind it. This one she painted because the ghost is scaring away the cancer. It is hanging on my wall and I look at it and am inspired."
Another painting that Caitlyn did is in the Davis House. It features a rainbow of hope, and Judy Ritchie purchased it for the Davis House.
Jones said he is so proud of Caitlyn and all she has done.
"She is something," Jones said. "Caitlyn is a very special little girl. While I was taking my chemo, she was my inspiration and keeps me driven.
"Caitlyn is such a caring child for being so young," Jones said. "It give you lots of hope."
Jones said he made a promise to Caitlyn.
"I will be driving your bus when you are a senior," Jones said. "She told me she would hold me to that promise."
Laurie said she and her husband, Burl Rennix, are very proud of their daughter.
"This has been a fun project, and she stayed all day when we sold her pictures," Laurie Rennix said. "So far, she has raised $2,300. $2,050 will be donated to the Elkins Cancer Support Group and $250 went for the brick in honor of John."
Caitlyn has proven that you are never too young to help others. Her latest creation was a picture purchased by Del. Denise Campbell, D-43rd District. Laurie Rennix said her daughter presented a message with that picture as well.
"Caitlyn wants Denise Campbell to take the picture to Charleston to show the governor," Laurie Rennix said. "She wants the governor to know how good Homestead School is, and how talented the students are. She hopes when he realizes this, Homestead School won't have to close."