I call my grandma "Babcia." Babcia is the Polish word for grandma. Her name is Krystyna Tomala. She was born Dec. 6, 1936, in Zabrze, Poland. When she was 30, she traveled to America to marry. In March of 2010, my Babcia was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. She came to live with my family since it was closer to the hospital. She took pills for eight long and hard months to try to shrink the cancer, but sadly died Nov. 16, 2010.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Selling Bracelets: One year later on her birthday, to honor Babcia, we started our charitable work selling bracelets for kidney cancer awareness. We ordered bracelets in orange and green (the kidney cancer colors) and sold them at schools and local stores. I was in first grade at this point so I didn't sell them at my school until the next year. We sold the bracelets at the IGA with one of my sister's friends. I had help from my closest friend, Megan Major, selling them to friends, classmates, and just to anyone who wanted to donate. It's amazing how many people just donated and didn't want a bracelet. It's hard and scary when going up to a principal or manager at first but after that everything is easy. All of the money we raise is donated to the Kidney Cancer Association.

Making a Difference: Raising money has not only made a big impact on my life, but on the lives of others. This experience has taught me how many people struggle and to be grateful for what I have. I've learned to think of others before myself. It feels amazing to know how much a small charity can do in this big world. In 2014, we got a thank-you note from the Kidney Cancer Association and I was bursting with joy. I'm sad that I lost my Babcia, but it makes me feel better to know that this sad memory started an amazing way to help change the world.