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PHOTOS: Young Saanich philanthropist raises $31,031 for sick kids, folds thousands of paper cranes

Sister of Leila Bui completes four mobiles with 1,001 cranes each, 27 still to be made

Young Myla Bui, 11, looked tiny compared to the large cheque and towering paper crane mobiles she presented to the Help Fill A Dream Foundation on Saturday. The Saanich girl began folding origami cranes after her sister Leila Bui was struck by a vehicle and left non-responsive in 2017, and hasn’t stopped since.

On Jan. 9, at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre, Bui and her family presented the first two paper crane mobiles – each featuring 1,001 paper cranes – to families supported by the Help Fill A Dream Foundation. The youngster also presented a cheque for $31,031 to the foundation.

The project started in November ahead of National Philanthropy Day when the family received an email from the organizers trying to encourage young people to get involved in fundraising.

READ ALSO: Sister of Leila Bui to make over 7,000 cranes for fundraiser

“I brought it up with Myla because I found that she’s very thoughtful and very giving,” explained mom Kairry Nguyen, adding that her daughter always donates her allowance money and grew her hair out to donate to the wig program at the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Bui expressed interest in starting her own fundraiser and began brainstorming right away, Nguyen said. The idea to begin folding paper cranes came from her younger brother Jace Bui, 8, who suggested doing something with origami because Bui is very skilled at folding cranes and boxes.

The project is also connected to a Japanese legend that promises a person who folds 1,000 origami cranes can ask the gods for one wish, Nguyen explained. “The extra one is for luck.”

READ ALSO: Saanich students craft arbutus berry necklaces to fundraise for Leila Bui

Next, the 11-year-old needed to choose a charity. She selected the Help Fill A Dream Foundation “because they were there for us when the accident happened,” Nguyen explained. They provided the Bui-Nguyen family with a ramp and an accessible van to help get Leila around.

Eventually, the 1,001 Cranes, 1 Wish fundraiser was born. Bui committed to folding one paper crane for every dollar raised. Her original goal was to raise $2,002 and create two mobiles – each with 1,001 cranes and a design customized to the child’s preferences – for families in need of funds for their sick child. In less than a week, the fundraiser drew in more than $7,000.

Now, three months later, $31,031 has been donated – enough to make 31 mobiles with 1,001 cranes which means Bui has her work cut out for her. Although after making thousands of paper cranes, she’s an expert.

READ ALSO: Driver who left Saanich girl with catastrophic brain injuries sentenced to two years in prison

“They get easier” with practice, Bui said. Her mom taught her to fold them back when they were in the hospital with Leila.

It became a therapeutic way for the family to pass the time and “the kids really seemed to enjoy it,” Nguyen explained, adding that it helped to focus on something else because many of Leila’s surgeries lasted several hours.

The family is grateful for the support they’ve received from the community. Nguyen noted that not only have people made monetary donations, but some have brought over origami paper and folded cranes to help out. Nguyen added that designing and stringing the mobiles has proven to be the most challenging part.

The family hopes that the mobiles will bring the recipients hope, belief and a “little bit of luck.”

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