Londonderry first-grader has unique birthday tradition

By Suzanne Laurent The Derry News

LONDONDERRY — Lily-Anne Heywood is already a budding philanthropist. Last year, when she turned 6, she decided to have her friends' parents give donations to the New England Patriots Foundation in lieu of presents.

"Her mom put the seed there," grandfather Jeff Heywood said.

This year, Lily-Anne decided to accept donations for the Bella Tucker Fund at her seventh birthday party Oct. 9. The party was held at Gym-Ken in Windham, where she is a fourth-level gymnast.

Lily-Anne, a first-grader at Matthew Thornton Elementary School, knew Bella, 9, was a gymnast before she became ill in April.

Bella, a South Londonderry Elementary School student, was hospitalized on Easter Sunday with a life-threatening infection that resulted in quadruple amputations. The community has rallied around her. Lily-Anne wanted to help, too, her mom Jessica Heywood said.

"It goes without saying, how proud I am of her," Heywood said. "Her genuine concern for others at such a young age is truly inspiring."

Lily-Anne collected $1,027 at her party and had all her friends sign a big card to send to Bella.

"Lily-Anne's birthday was on Oct. 11 and I gave her a card with $7, one for each year," Jeff Heywood said. "She asked me if it was for Bella, and I told her, 'No, this is just for you.'"

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