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SLATE HILL — When 12-year-old Jillian Dolce needed a community service project for her upcoming Confirmation, she decided to make it a labor of love — and a mission.

Jillian decided to raise money for cancer research in honor of a friend's mom. Brenda Travers was diagnosed two years ago with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She's had three surgeries since then, and is undergoing a course of chemotherapy that started in June.

"I started this because I didn't want her to fight alone," Jillian said.

Travers said she was shocked when Jillian approached her this summer with the idea of organizing a cancer walk. She's thrilled with how it's blossomed.

On Oct. 17, her Walk for the Cure ... One Step at a Time event, to benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will be at Shannen Park in Slate Hill. Orange County Executive Ed Diana will lead the walk. Sloan-Kettering is sending a representative.

Every morning at Minisink schools, where Travers works, Jillian stops by to see how she is. Travers said they often end up in tears when they talk about Jillian's project and it's progress.

"I'm so proud of Jillian," Travers said. "For a 12-year-old girl to do what she's done, it's just amazing. She's a great kid."

By this past week, Jillian had signed up 60 sponsors. She created a nonprofit to handle the donations.

As she and her mom, Courtney, talk about the project in the family's Slate Hill home, her dad, Jack, and 16-year-old brother Dylan listen. They beam with pride.

Getting sponsors was Jillian's favorite part. She liked seeing how people were so willing to help. She dealt with Memorial Sloan-Kettering. She called the county executive's office. The other kids working on their Confirmations at Holy Cross Church in Slate Hill put together bake sales and raised $400 for the cause. The school JROTC will help with parking at the event; the Minisink Valley Little League will run the concession stand.

"I didn't know it was going to be this big," said Jillian.

"We were talking to Father Bob one day," her mother related. "He said, 'it's not just that she is doing community service; she's giving so many other people the opportunity to do community service.'"

"I just like to help people," Jillian said.

To help go or donate to One Step at a Time, P.O. Box 531, Slate Hill NY 10973.

Registration for the walk starts at 10 a.m. Oct. 17 and the walk begins at 11 a.m.

Student honors teacher, organizes Lymphoma Walk

Published: 2:00 AM - 10/06/10

SLATE HILL — Jillian Dolce of Slate Hill, a seventh-grade student at Minisink Valley Middle School, has organized a Walk for Lymphoma in honor of Brenda Travers, a substitite teacher at Minisink.

The walk will take place Oct. 17 at Shannen Park in Slate Hill. Registration will begin at 10 a.m. The walk will start at 11 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

All proceeds will benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The fundraiser started out as a community service project toward Jillian making her Confirmation in eighth grade.

Her mother, Courtney Dolce, said Jillian is an honor student in the middle school and also plays softball in the Minisink Valley Little League, which is donating a concession stand the day of the walk. All proceeds that day will also be donated.

Jillian is selling T-shirts, taking donations toward her raffle table and looking for sponsors. Her website is

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Jillian at