Sophia's Story

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 wasn’t 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.

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 that need to travel for treatment.

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🎗💛2023 in Review, 2024 Catch Up💛🎗

✨Last year was a year, to say the least! (Huge sigh)✨

It’s hard to believe that 2023, the same year in which our ever-so-fierce Sophia gained her angel wings 💔and started her foundation🎗, has come and gone.  As we catch our breath from the new year underway, we want to bring you, our loyal supporters, up-to-speed on our accomplishments so far and goals going forward.

It is because of the dedication and contributions from YOU that we are able to carry on Sophia’s dream to bring smiles to fierce little warriors, while raising awareness on every mission we complete.

🌻🎗In the year of our inception, 2023🌻🎗

🎗We formally established ourselves as a 501c3 with the help of Tarshus Law Firm;
🎗Jillmarie Giardina and StandOut Marketing created our beautiful website, adding the ability to collect donations online and keep our community informed of our mission and events;
🎗We built a dedicated and passionate Board of Directors;
🎗And began to build out policies and procedures to establish workflow and determine the best way to help those in need;
🎗And this was just the beginning…

✌️💛🎗We held three major fundraising events
🎗July 15th: 🍋Our annual Lemonade Stand
🎗July 28th: 🏌️The Shine Gold golf tournament 🏌️in conjunction with Hope Rises
🎗October 27th: 🎧Our First Annual Not-So-Silent Silent Disco🎧thanks to many generous sponsors including Western New York Dental Group Basil Family Dealerships and Cornerstone Capital Wealth Management.

🍷🥂Oh, don’t forget we started our own wine label through Addys Fine Wine & Spirits (because we know Soph wants to keep all of her adult friends happy)!

Currently, we are 100% volunteer organization, so every dollar you donate goes to fund our mission of Respite 🎗 Research 🎗Relief. With this funding, in 2023 here is what we have accomplished towards our mission:

🎗✌️Respite 🎗💛✌️
🌻 First and foremost, we have started a savings account specifically for the purchase of a respite cabin for private family getaways for those in need.

🌻In addition, we hosted two FREE events for our warriors:
🏹In collaboration with Sophia’s girl scout troop, we hosted a FREE camp day for all local warriors and their families, chock full of outdoor activities, experiences, food and festivity. 🏹
🎃We partnered with Sweet Buffalo and Totally Buffalo Cares to put on a free Halloween trick-or-treat event for our local warriors jam-packed with sweets, treats and fun. 🎃

🎗But it didn’t end there: 🎗
🏈With the help of our valued relationship with All Season Rental we brought star warriors and their families to a fun filled night of star treatment in a Bills suit. 🏈
🏒We honored fierce warriors, and their families, to a night out in a Sabres game suit, including a meet-and-greet with Alex Tuck. 🏒

🎗⭐️✌️Research 🎗⭐️✌️
We have spent time and energy in cautious research, outreach and deliberation to identify exactly where we want to direct this portion of funds.  We are very close to finalizing this and you can expect an announcement in 2024. So, stay tuned.  We are fiercely determined to make an impact in, not only the care of our warriors, but in contributing to a cure for them as well. 

🎗⭐️✌️Relief for children and their caregivers
💛With the generosity of our premier partner Western New York Dental Group, we helped to fulfill Christmas wishes of 9 warrior families;
💛We received and fulfilled a request from Sophia’s old treatment grounds, Cleveland Clinic, for 16 Christmas trees with all the trimmings for every room on their pediatric oncology floor;
💛STF provided Christmas Eve dinner with help from JT’s Buffalo to the kids, their families, nurses and doctors on Oishei’s pediatric oncology floor;
💛We gifted a holiday lunch to the staff in the pediatric oncology clinic;
💛Sent 80+ Lego sets to the pediatric oncology floor at Oishei;
💛Delivered simple yet coveted comforts like lint rollers for hair loss, phone chargers for long nights in the hospital, Door Dash gift cards and brought smiles with surprise cupcake deliveries;
💛Helped a family with a financial gift towards a trip of a lifetime, another family with financial needs for transportation related to their care, and a third family affected by cancer with a medical bill.

✨️As 2024 begins, we started strong with a rip-roaring “Meat for a Mission” Raffle led by an amazing committee of Sophia’s besties. We are in the process of planning this year’s events and refining our goals as we fight for respite, research and relief for our warriors, always inspired by the one-and-only, Sophia Brielle Benintende.