Courageous Cancer Warrior turned Angel Inspires Sophia the Fierce, Inc.’s Mission for Pediatric Cancer Research and Relief
In July 2021, Sophia Benintende, a lively, healthy 7-year-old, was preparing for 3rd grade at Country Parkway in Williamsville when she began experiencing a pain in her side. Believing it to be just muscle strain from the monkey bars, her family discovered a lump on Sophia’s rib cage. A visit to her pediatrician led to a sonogram and CT scan, revealing tumors on her rib cage and lungs, and after a whirlwind few days, Sophia was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an aggressive and rare cancer.
She immediately began a rigorous treatment, including 14 rounds of chemotherapy at Roswell and 31 rounds of radiation at Sloan Kettering Memorial in NYC. Despite numerous challenges, including ER visits, transfusions, and fevers, Sophia triumphed and became cancer-free in spring 2022.
Maintaining her strength despite daily trips to Roswell for maintenance chemo and home-administered treatments, Sophia’s courageous spirit inspired her to give back. Thus, Sophia the Fierce, Inc. (STF) was born, with a mission to bring joy to other cancer-battling children through activities like football, games, camping, and four-wheeling.
Tragically, just before completing her treatment, Sophia’s scans revealed a relapse with new tumors surrounding her heart and in her lungs. She immediately began trials at the Cleveland Clinic, but the treatments proved ineffective. Although her family pursued alternative options, Sophia’s condition worsened, and she gained her angel wings on May 9th, 2023 at the age of 9.
In honor of Sophia’s tenacious spirit, Sophia the Fierce, Inc. is dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer research for a brighter future for children fighting cancer. The mission encompasses three aspects: respite, research, and relief for cancer-stricken children and their families.
• Respite: Sophia believed nature brings life and freedom, aspiring to create private outdoor escapes for children and caregivers to connect with nature. The dream is a private STF getaway for pediatric cancer families. Meanwhile, they organize outdoor retreats for local warriors in need.
• Research: Only 4% of federal cancer research funds support pediatric cancers, leaving children like Sophia with outdated treatments (her regime included drugs made for adults in the 1970s) and limited options. Sophia deserved so much more. One-third of STF’s funds go directly to fund pediatric cancer research.
• Relief: During Sophia’s battle, she received emotional and financial aid, including cupcakes on chemo days, a Buffalo game outing, and helping her family with mortgage bills. STF collaborates with social workers to address the unique needs of local children with cancer, offering relief in various forms.
Sophia loved watching Buffalo. Her mom, Kristina, says it was much more than football to Sophia. It was something to look forward to at the end of a long treatment week. Kristina says Sophia had such a wonderful time wrapped in a blanket in a suite at a game, enjoying some of her favorite snacks, and meeting her idol, Kaiir Elam (#24). It was her hope that one day there could be a suite at Buffalo's games for cancer kids and their families to come and experience what she had.
Sophia’s dream was to brighten the darkest days with lasting memories through private outdoor escapes, fostering connections, relaxation, and adventure. STF, Inc. is committed to funding research initiatives and providing financial aid to families in need, ensuring kids receive the treatments they deserve. To learn more, go to sophiathefierce.org.
Join Sophia the Fierce on October 27th at StoLat in Williamsville for their Halloween Spectacular Silent Disco. Get your tickets here!