Isabelle Chan, a Martin Avenue School sixth grader, remembered her friend, Erin Getzler, who died from a brain tumor when she was 6-years-old.
"She was really sweet," Chan said. "She would always leave class early when she was sick and we would hug her and she would always smile. I was really sad when she died."
Getzler's loving spirit stayed with her classmates and they decided to raise money for an organization in honor of her memory.
Martin Avenue Elementary School sixth graders held a fundraiser, "Butterflies for Erin," to raise money for the Guardian Brain Foundation at Merrick Cinemas on Sunday morning.
"Erin really liked butterflies," Chan said.
Sandy McGovern, one of the organizers of the event, said that the students' goal is to raise $1,000 for the Guardian Brain Foundation by June. They raised about $300 on Sunday.
"They all graduate this year so to remember Erin, they will do a couple of fundraisers in her memory," she said.
Mary Pallotta, president of the Guardian Brain Foundation, started the organization nine years ago after her brother died from a brain tumor. She said that what the children are doing is "wonderful."
"To learn how to volunteer, to make a difference and to keep a memory alive will always stay with them," she said.
Sue Amberge lived across the street from the Getzlers and her son, Stephen, was in Erin's class. She cried as she spoke of the little girl.
"What I remember is the strength she had," Amberge said. "She went through the whole thing with the surgeries and all and was still smiling."
Erin's parents, Bob and Joan Getzler, said they were extremely moved by the students' efforts.
"It's nice that she touched so many lives," Bob Getzler said. "The school has been so helpful and supportive since she died."
Joan Getzler cried as her husband spoke.
"It is all just so wonderful," she said.
Martin Avenue School students will host a pancake breakfast to raise money for The Guardian Brain Foundation in honor of Erin Getzler's memory on Sunday, Jan. 22 at Applebees. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.