In July 2021, Sophia Benintende, a lively, healthy 7-year-old, was preparing for 3rd grade at Country Parkway in Williamsville when she began experiencing a pain in her side. Believing it to be just muscle strain from the monkey bars, we discovered a lump on Sophia’s rib cage. A visit to her pediatrician led to a sonogram and CT scan, revealing tumors on her rib cage and lungs, and after a whirlwind few days, Sophia was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an aggressive and rare cancer.
She immediately began a rigorous treatment, including 14 rounds of chemotherapy at Roswell and 31 rounds of radiation at Sloan Kettering Memorial in NYC. Despite numerous challenges, including ER visits, transfusions, and fevers, Sophia triumphed and became cancer-free in spring 2022.
Maintaining her strength despite daily trips to Roswell for maintenance chemo and home-administered treatments, Sophia’s courageous spirit inspired her to give back. She decided to Host a Lemonade stand. She sold Cookies and Childhood cancer awareness yard signs and she raffled off a pair of Bills Tickets. Sophia Raised $7,000.00 that day and wanted to donate the money to Shine Gold a Childhood Cancer Organization campaign; and that’s exactly what she did. But Sophia wasent stopping there. She wanted to help me compose a letter and send it to mayor Brown stating her case why September should officially be declared Childhood Cancer awareness month in Buffalo, and on the day of the Shine Gold Fireworks event, we were hand delivered the official documentation that September would indeed be declared Childhood Cancer awareness month. Sophia was so excited for the Shine Gold Event that she couldn’t wait to present the check to all four of the charities that helped her throughout her journey and the certificate she received from the mayor. That night, Sophia the Fierce, Inc. was born, Thanks to a selfless lawyer, Andrea Tarshus, who got Sophias Foundation up and running in no time. Sophia had big dreams for this foundation; with a mission to bring joy to other cancer-battling children through activities like Bills games, camping, and four-wheeling.
Tragically, just before completing her maintenance treatment, Sophia’s scans revealed a relapse with new tumors surrounding her heart and in her lungs. She immediately began trials at the Cleveland Clinic, but the treatments proved ineffective. Although we pursued alternative options, Sophia’s condition worsened, and she gained her angel wings on May 9th, 2023 at the age of 9.
In honor of Sophia’s tenacious spirit, Sophia the Fierce, Inc. is dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer research for a brighter future for children fighting cancer. Our mission is threefold: respite, research, and relief for cancer-stricken children, their families, and their caregivers.
Respite: Sophia believed nature brings life and freedom, aspiring to create private outdoor escapes for children and caregivers to connect with nature. The dream is a private STF getaway for pediatric cancer families. Stocked with board games, food, and quality family time spent together. Meanwhile, with the help of Sophias Girl Scout troop, we will organize outdoor retreats for local warriors in need.
Sophia’s dream was to brighten the darkest days with lasting memories through private outdoor escapes, fostering connections, relaxation, and adventure. STF Inc. is committed to funding research initiatives and providing financial aid to families in need, ensuring kids receive the treatments they deserve.