A glory lilac tree on a Pittsford elementary school yard has been dedicated in honor of a first grader who was tragically killed in the Newtown, Connecticut Shooting.
Nine-year old Jack Sullivan, the cousin of late Catherine Violet Hubbard, planted the flower bush - called the “Peace Tree” - behind the Allen Creek Elementary School as a memorial.
During a ceremony on Friday, Jack joined the Catherine’s Peace Team in dedicating a plaque and the "Peace Tree" in Catherine’s memory.
"It's really important to me,” says Jack. “Because Catherine loved peace and kindness and that's the main thing about the peace team."
Jack described his cousin Catherine as someone who was kind, loved the color purple and animals. Catherine's mother, Jennifer Hubbard, says these are moments they will cherish.
"This means to us that we are going to be okay,” says Hubbard, who traveled from Newtown, Connecticut with her family for the dedication ceremony. “That the world is going to remember the goodness that the tragedy brought. And what jack has done is the first step in that direction."
Hubbard says she and her family are healing from the tragic loss of the daughter one day at a time.
"We have to honor Catherine for who Catherine was. And seeing what these kids are doing is the same thing Catherine would do."
A $2,300 check was presented to the Hubbard family from the students of the Pittsford elementary school. The gift will go towards the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation to build a Animal Sanctuary in Connection.
Jack raised $43,000 dollars for the foundation since January.
"Right now we are looking for land,” Hubbard says. “From there we're going to build a barn with Jack's money. We’re going to have resource rooms for kids; we're going to welcome field trips. It's going to be a place where people and creatures heal."
Part of the celebration was supposed to include releasing butterflies in Catherine's honor; however, the wet and cold weather didn't allow for it. So the handful of butterflies remained inside a mess container next to the “Peace Tree”. In Hubbards mind, it was still perfect.
“She would be in there right now,” Hubbard says joyously. “She would have that unlocked and [have been] holding them just for her. This would have been exactly how she would have done it.”
County Executive Maggie Brooks declared May 24th as "Catherine's Peace Team” Day. It's a team Jack created to spread a message of kindness and peace following the tragic events at the Newtown elementary school.
Hubbard says her daughter was a kind soul....
"If we can learn from the things like Allen Creek [elementary school] is doing then we're going to be a better country for it."