RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — A purple dragon was born in books written by 9-year-old Brianna Fasano and her dad, Anthony of Ridgewood.
The village residents have been sending copies of "Purpee the Purple Dragon" to pediatric cancer patients around the country since August 2014.
“The idea is to make [the patients] a little bit happy while they’re in the hospital,” said the elder Fasano, whose bedtime stories for his three children have long featured the colorful creature.
After turning some of the stories into books, Brianna and her father contacted hospitals to gauge interest in a reading program for young cancer patients.
The Fasanos set up an online campaign in the spring of 2014 and, in just a few months, raised more than $13,000. It was enough to print 3,500 copies.
Anthony Fasano has since been hand-delivering them to hospitals from coast to coast.Brianna stays in Ridgewood while he makes the deliveries, but she says she hopes to accompany him soon.
“The best part about it is going to the hospitals and having the kids write a Purpee story,” Fasano said. “The kids are sick and they can't do much, but they're happy to have you come and read to them.”
Brianna and her father have also been using the books to teach local elementary school students about the importance of following their dreams.
“Kids in elementary school get a lot of confidence when they see this 9-year-old author,” Fasano said. “Inspiring kids was something that could come out of it that we didn’t think about.”
The Fasanos use an acronym for “WRITE” to help students remember the key points: write, read, imagine, tell stories, everyday.
“We could write another five or 10 books - we have so many Purpee stories,” Fasano said. “I try to tell a story but it changes a million times because [my children] come up with their own ways to finish it.”
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