Fourteen year old Greenwich resident Steven Sudell would be finishing his second week of 9th grade at Greenwich High School if he hadn’t become ill.
Steven, a cancer warrior, has inspired so many people in his fight – in Greenwich and even around the world – and that was evidenced on Friday morning at the formal opening of a kindness rocks healing garden at Greenwich Town Hall.
A large crowd that included the First Selectman Peter Tesei, Selectman John Toner, State Senator Scott Frantz, State Reps Fred Camillo, Livvy Floren and Mike Bocchino, Tax Collector Howard Richman and Town Clerk Carmella Budkings gathered along the sidewalk as First Selectman gave an introduction.
Tesei said the creation of painted rocks with poignant messages was meaningful and purposeful.
“With the support of everyone here, creating these wonderful messages, there needed to be a home for these rocks,” he said. “It has such deep meaning for me personally, having known the Sudell family since I was a young child growing up with Paul. It also expresses something we need more of in these times: kindness.”
Tesei invited everyone interested in sharing their thoughts with the crowd.
Greenwich High School football coach John Marinelli thanked everyone who had painted rocks and said he would have liked to coach Steven on the football team if the situation had been different.
Marinelli, whose team will play their opener on Saturday, Sept 8, brought rocks painted by the football players and placed them among the others in the garden.
“It’s worldwide in just a short amount of weeks,” he said of the kindness rocks movement.
“I want to say thank you to Steven because this year he has given us something to play for – something a little bit extra. He’s given the community something to come together for,” Marinelli said, adding that for the First Selectman and Parks & Rec and other town departments to come together to make the kindness rocks garden happen. “That speaks volumes about what Steven means to us.”
Maureen Adamczyk Baldino, who coordinated kindness rocks events at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, which is where she met Steven, said those connections mean so much to a family fighting cancer.
Baldino who has had three family members battle cancer, and just put her brother in hospice explained the value of kindness rocks.
“There’s such healing in both making them and releasing them without anything but good intentions – expecting nothing back,” she said. “Those connections mean so much when a family is fighting cancer because you feel alone and you feel in a place that’s scary because you’re at a cancer hospital.”
Baldino said she’s painted about 3,000 rocks already and it’s not enough. She said social media has gone a long way in answering the need for more kindness rocks.
Elisha Perez and her daughter Ava explained how they got involved in the kindness rocks project. “We’ve painted hundreds of rocks in the past year and it helped to bring about healing,” she said. “You’re pouring your love into these stones. It starts off something just for yourself – it can be a phrase or a sticker with glitter – it’s just something that you’re pouring your energy into. That positive energy, once you release it into the world, is really the next phase of that good feeling.”
More information about The Kindness Rocks Project which was started by Megan Murphy on Cape Cod is available online.
GYFL Honors Steven Sudell, A Maverick Fighting Cancer (Sept 17, 2017 by Sadie Smith, Greenwich Academy class of 2018)
(May 2018 by Ryan Bologna, GHS Class of 2017)