While it was a difficult time, the family was overwhelmed with the amount of people who came to their aid.
“We needed help, and it came from everywhere,” Button says. “There was a girl in our neighborhood who put together this long list of people who, for the next two months, would be cooking meals for us. People we didn’t even know would come to our door and ask if they could clean our house.”
Button, a freshman at Island Pacific Academy, says his mother is healthy now. The experience of having the community rally around their family stuck with Button and his two sisters, 15-year-old Carly and 12-year-old Hannah.
“We decided that we needed to give back to the community that had given so much to us.”
They started by creating and selling a cookbook, Special Delivery, which features recipes of the meals that people prepared while their mom was sick. From book sales, they worked to support others affected by breast cancer. As time went on, they began to expand their reach to other issues and started their own nonprofit organization, Dream of a Better World.
Last year, Button visited an orphanage in Uganda that the group has been supporting for two years. Dream of a Better World raised money for the orphanage to purchase land, build a new dormitory and buy a car. While on his trip, Button spent time with the more than 50 children in the orphanage
- all of whom are HIV positive.
“It was just really cool to see the smiles on their faces and how grateful they are,” Button says.
For his efforts, Button recently received Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which recognizes only 25 young leaders across the country each year who have made a significant difference in the world.
But Button isn’t stopping there. Next on his list is providing the orphanage with enough funding to build a school. “I want to give these kids a school so they can get a good education just like I have,” Button says.
Dream of a Better World also has sponsored infrastructure for a shelter in Mexico and has provided school supplies for local schools. The group raises funds through a multitude of efforts, including garage sales and bake sales, and primarily through its blog, It’s Our Turn Now.
Although he already has achieved much at such a young age, Button is modest about his accomplishments.
“We are just looking to make the world a better place,” he says.
To learn more and for ways to help, visit dreamofabetterworld.org and itsourturnnow.blogspot.com.