They lost a child to cancer. Now they're painting the town gold to help other bereaved families

Posted at 7:13 PM, Sep 17, 2023

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- A typical September Sunday at Sports Page Bar and Grille in Mechanicsville means seats are packed with customers donning their favorite team's colors and NFL jerseys. But on this one particular Sunday, just outside of its walls, the only color that matters is the color gold.

For several hours, volunteers with Sawyer's Warriors, a newly-formed nonprofit, painted the windows of the Hanover County business with golden ribbons, hearts, and words of encouragement, raising awareness for childhood cancer.

Sawyer's Warriors

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Roughly 43 families receive a life-changing childhood cancer diagnosis every day.

"Forty-three times a day, families are completely shattered and heartbroken and ruined," said Jamie Perkins, who started the nonprofit. "It's not as rare as it used to be. And only about four percent of government funding actually goes to treatment for childhood cancer."

Perkins' family is one that's been impacted by devastating childhood disease.

Her daughter, Sawyer, was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was five years old.

"Sawyer was just a feisty, sassy little girl. She had such a warrior spirit. She just wanted to live," Perkins said. "She loved everyone."

Sawyer's Warriors

CBS 6 followed the family's journey as Sawyer Perkins battled cancer for years. It's a journey Samantha Masters, a manager at Sports Page, said made the Perkins family regulars at the restaurant.

"She was so sweet," Masters said. "A chicken-loving, chocolate milk-loving little thing. At t the end, Sports Page was all she wanted. So, we definitely provided that every day we could."

On New Year's Eve in 2020, Sawyer Perkins passed away peacefully by her family's side.

"A lot of people support you during treatment. But after the funeral, there's not as much help and there's not as much support. So, our mission is to be there for those bereaved families after others have walked away," her mother said.

Sawyer's legacy still lives through her family and several siblings, two of whom now work at Sports Page.

This month, National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the nonprofit will be knocking on the doors of other Hanover businesses, hoping to paint their windows gold for Sawyer, too.

"She was amazing. Amazing," Masters said. "The world would be a better place if there's one more person like her."

"She impacted so many people's lives, so I just hope that nobody ever forgets her," Perkins said.

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