Girl, 10, Designs Sweatshirt to Help Children Facing Cancer

Avery Pacheco is also fighting her own cancer battle and wants to encourage others

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Avery Pacheco is as cute as they come and looking quite stylish in her new sweatshirt. The Lewisville fifth grader designed it with a purpose forged in her fight against cancer.

"When I was 9, I was diagnosed with leukemia. And, I'm doing really good. I still have about a year left of chemo and treatments," the now 10-year-old told NBC 5 in a virtual interview.

Dallas-based Salood approached Avery and her mom about joining the effort to help families like hers. The nonprofit pairs children with cancer with creatives to design a product that's sold to benefit families of pediatric cancer patients.

"It's been a neat opportunity to highlight the fight she's had and how well she's done it and bring awareness to other kids and families who are fighting this fight as well," said Avery's mom, Emily Pacheco.

Once Avery was onboard, the next step was to secure a designer to help with the project. Kathyn Sukey, a designer with fashionable companies like Coach, Kate Spade and now Draper James on her resume, says the cold call from Salood warmed her heart when she heard about it's mission and Avery's story.

"I was hooked. I read the email once, and I was like sign me up," Sukey said. "And what really, really touched my heart is that Avery is the same age as my daughter."

Sukey is in New York; Avery in Lewisville. So, they collaborated through virtual calls and quickly found a connection and direction. Sukey started with a questionnaire to learn Avery's preferences for colors, stars or hearts and took cues from there.

"I was so inspired by her answers, as you see in the final design where we landed, with her love of hearts over stars. So, I kinda took that and ran with that little bit," Sukey said.

Avery Pacheco, 10, shows off the sweatshirt she designed and is now on sale to raise money for families with children fighting cancer. Photo Credit: Salood

She shared with NBC 5 some of the sketches that highlight the design process she and Avery navigated.

Avery Pacheco / Kathryn Sukey
Avery's design notes provided after second meeting with Kathryn Sukey. Credit: Avery Pacheco/ Kathryn Sukey

The back of the sweatshirt features encouraging words picked and sketched by Avery; words like hope, courage, faith, trust, promise, strength, love, joy, grace, believe.

Kathryn Sukey
Avery's design notes applied. Option 2 for sweatshirt. Credit: Kathryn Sukey

"I love how it's so meaningful and it has the possibility of touching people in a really meaningful way," Sukey said. "And you can look at these words of encouragement and they can lift you up one day you really need to be lifted up ."

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The word 'brAvery" also plays a prominent part.

It's Avery's nickname.

"Once I got diagnosed, my cousin texted my mom and said that would be a good nickname. And it just stuck," smiled Avery.

Kathryn Sukey
Final design for Avery's sweatshirt. Credit: Kathryn Sukey

"We had come up together with the idea of the v in brAvery becoming a heart, and the b-r of brAvery being one of her favorite colors which is this beautiful teal," Sukey explained as she described the front of the sweatshirt. "And the design you see on the back, it all came from Avery and her beautiful hand sketch. So every step of the way, it was really special to apply those notes to create this labor of love together. And I think the outcome is amazing."

The left sleeve is also all Avery.

"It says 'Be strong and courageous' in my handwriting," Avery says as she talked about the part of the Bible verse that encourages her in her journey through cancer.

Avery Pacheco / Kathryn Sukey
Avery's design notes provided after second meeting with Kathryn Sukey. Sukey created the font from Avery's handwriting. Credit: Avery Pacheco / Kathryn Sukey

The phrase is taken from Joshua 1:9 which is "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go".

Avery is more than pleased with her venture into fashion and the woman who executed her vision.

"It was really fun to work with Salood and Kathryn. And, Kathryn did a great job helping me design," she said.

Avery's sweatshirt will be sold through the Salood website through the end of the month. The cost is $45 and the goal is to sell 500 to to raise money for families impacted by pediatric cancer.

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