BETHEL — As Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote, “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

When talking about Hailey Steward, Hailey’s mom, Tabaitha Steward, talks about the time when Hailey was in the children’s hospital and Steward had just bought her new bedding, as she always did to help decorate Hailey’s room. Hailey told her mom to give it to the little girl in the next room. Steward did as her daughter wished. That was the night Hailey passed away.

However, Hailey’s spirit is very much kept alive. Her mom keeps up Hailey’s strong, passionate personality, and keeps on fighting for kid’s who are combating cancer. She’ll even be in the room with children who are dying of cancer, giving them comfort because she knows that’s what Hailey would have wanted.

Hailey had a wise soul and a big heart, says her mom. She loved playing truth or dare with her family. She would dare her Dad in October to hose himself in the dirt or dare her mom to drink orange juice and milk. She was always doing things to make the other children laugh or having water balloon fights with the nurses. She would write something positive on a sheet of paper and attach a gift card, and slide it under the door of other children’s rooms, saying guess who!

“She was perfection. Spent 10 years with her, I can’t imagine [them] without her,” Steward says.

For every time there should have been a milestone in Hailey’s life, Steward will stay in bed, unable to leave it. This year Hailey would have been a freshman. “Every milestone is rough for me. I just do whatever I can. I hear her, ‘mommy, put your big girl panties on.’ If my daughter can go though that pain, I can do this too.”

The Go Gold event every Labor Day weekend is a big festival to bring awareness for children’s cancers. This year there was a block party, with a DJ, a food truck called, ‘Shut up and Eat,’ face painting, and more. There was a prize as well.

Every September, not just on Labor Day, all of Bethel is covered in gold flags. This is because Hailey used to say, “GO GOLD!” The gold ribbon was given to children with cancer.

“I enjoy spreading her. She’s not just a memory. She’s still here,” says Steward. “Life sucks, but nothing is worse than a child with a cancer that they have no control over. If you can smile a little, or pay it forward, it makes some bad a little better.”

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