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Butterfly bushes remember Wantagh teen

Twenty Girl Scout troops from Wantagh gathered at

Twenty Girl Scout troops from Wantagh gathered at Wantagh Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the opening of The Brittany Vega Butterfly Path. Brittany's sister Julia, 7, center, was given butterflies from her fellow Girl Scouts following the ceremony. (May 31, 2011) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A tear rolled down Sandi Vega’s cheek Tuesday as Wantagh Girl Scout Troop 3088 dedicated a garden of 15 butterfly bushes to her daughter, Brittany.

She cradled the flowers and photo album of her 14-year-old daughter that troop leader Christine McKenna handed her as the garden was unveiled before a sea of Wantagh Girl Scouts and district officials on the playground at Wantagh Elementary School.

Fourth graders Grace Anne McKenna, Julianna Montanile, Kayla Schmidt, Kelly Talty and Hannah Dougherty decided to build the garden last fall for their Bronze Award project, an environmentally friendly impact project for the Wantagh community.

“It was unbelievably wonderful,” Vega said. “It was so nice of them to do.”

Brittany Vega was killed last September when she was hit by a car while crossing Sunrise Highway at Wantagh Avenue on her way to school. Her mother is now working with lawmakers to create “Brittany’s Law,” which will require engineers to design roads with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind.

McKenna, 10, said her troop opted for butterfly bushes because they are light blue when they bloom -- Brittany’s favorite color. More than 50 local troops donated funds for the garden, and Troop 3088 planted 14 bushes for each of Brittany’s years and one more for her spirit. Brittany was also a Girl Scout, and members from her troop turned out for the dedication.

“What could be more appropriate than a butterfly garden?” said Debbie Pinciotto, Brittany’s leader in Troop 3277. “Like butterflies, she hadn’t quite blossomed. Butterflies speak to her.”

Brianna Motis, 14, a friend of Brittany’s from her troop, said the garden really rings true to her name.

“I guess when I think of Brittany I think of cheerful stuff,” she said. “I think about the garden, that’s cheerful.”

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