A 7-year-old girl battling cancer in California has started an effort to fund pediatric cancer research that has spread all the way to East Texas.

Lynden Smith of Rancho Mission Viejo in California learned she had Stage III anaplastic large cell lymphoma in August and soon after began making bracelets to sell to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

They are called Lynden Lotus Bracelets in honor of Lynden and because each bracelet has a lotus flower charm on it along with beads, lava stones and spacers.

When Lynden’s aunt, Brittney Checketts, of Flint, saw what her niece was doing, she decided to join the drive to raise money for pediatric cancer research by making the bracelets here and also conducting a benefit online silent auction.

Checketts is sponsoring bracelet-making parties in her Flint home, selling the bracelets in the Tyler area and plans to send those that do not sell locally to her sister and niece to help them fill back orders in California. An adult bracelet sells for $10 and a child’s bracelet costs $7.

Through the bracelet sales, Lynden so far has delivered a check for $10,000 to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

Participating in one of the bracelet-making sessions, Carli Ballard, a Flint mother of three children about the same age as Lynden, said, “It’s important for me to bring more awareness of childhood cancer and support Lynden. It’s important to be involved in your community and with your friends and family and be able to support each other through hard times.”

April Bratton, of Flint who has been friends with Checketts three years, said, “When she told us about her niece, I wanted to help and be involved because it’s important to raise the money.”

She added, “The bracelets are pretty easy to make. It’s fun to design the colors and the different designs of the beads and it’s fun getting to contribute.”

Checketts has set a goal to raise $10,000 in the Tyler area for pediatric cancer research through sale of the bracelets, an online silent auction and donations. She already has received about $2,000 in donations.

Starting Thursday and running through 8 p.m. Sunday, people can purchase the bracelets and also bid in the silent auction online at www. 32auctions.com/Checketts4 CancerResearch. Items in the auction will include artwork, a jersey signed by a Los Angeles Ram’s football player, purses, gift certificates, free teeth whitening by a dentist, baskets, cosmetics and other items.

Checketts said she decided to spearhead the local bracelet-making effort since she is not in California to help and then decided to conduct the silent auction too upon the suggestion of a friend.

Checketts said that if sale of the bracelets in the Tyler area and the silent auction together raise $10,000, that will be donated in Lynden’s name to pediatric cancer research and she will fly to California in October and let her niece shave her head.

“I want her to know that somebody who loves her looks just like her and isn’t embarrassed to be bald with her,” Checketts said.

When Lynden’s hair fell out because of the chemo treatments, Checketts said, “It was really hard for her. She didn’t want anybody to see her and she told her mom, ‘I look like a freak.’ She hated it and felt ugly. I want her to feel beautiful.”

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