Ryan Butterworth (front left) was chosen to paricipate in the “30 days 30 Smiles” program. Ryan’s mom, Marisa Minnella, second adult from left, was on hand for the ceremony.

Published in the October 27, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — If Dolbeare School third grader Ryan Butterworth was nervous speaking in front of all those adults, he didn’t show it. When you’ve survived cancer, appearing in front of the Wakefield School Committee isn’t all that scary.

Tuesday night he was joined by Dolbeare School Principal TJ Liberti, who helped explain how Ryan was selected to participate in a robotics program that also led to donations in his name to the Dolbeare School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Liberti told the School Committee that Ryan is a cancer survivor who had leukemia as a young boy. He was chosen out of many other students by the American Childhood Cancer Organization’s “30 Days 30 Smiles” program. The program is a collaboration with Amazon that celebrates children diagnosed with cancer who demonstrate an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

During September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, ACCO and Amazon delivered smiles to 30 children in 30 days, one for every day of the month, through exciting STEM-related immersion experiences across the country. On behalf of each child, Amazon also made donations to pediatric oncology programs across America committed to saving their lives.

Ryan was one of the 30 children chosen.

“My name is Ryan Butterworth,” the third-grader told the School Committee, “and I was one of 30 kids picked by the American Childhood Cancer Organization 30 Days for 30 Smiles. I got to go to Amazon Robotics and Amazon donated a whole bookshelf of books to the Dolbeare School in my name.”

He brought his mom along for the visit to Amazon Robotics.

“Ryan had a great opportunity to go to Amazon Robotics in North Reading and learn a lot about the building of robots and robotic programs,” Liberti told the School Committee.

According to their web site, the ACCO believes that “children diagnosed with cancer—those in treatment and survivors—are the key to the future, a future filled with compassion as well as great advances in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

“For many children affected by cancer, these curiosities are fueled by expert knowledge of their medical treatment as well as technological interest spurred by limitations of long hospital stays and time spent in bed. Time spent playing outside may be limited, but their desire to build, imagine, innovate and create is limitless.”

Amazon Robotics is located on Concord Street in North Reading, where they design, test, build and deploy the robots that automate Amazon’s fulfillment centers throughout the world.

In a statement, Amazon Robotics talked about Ryan’s visit to the facility.

“Ryan’s special day included being our ‘Chief Scientist’ for the day, where he helped us build our first-ever golden robot. He also had hands-on opportunities to experience some of our most exciting and futuristic research projects in robotics. We concluded the day with a celebration of STEM toys that were gifted to Ryan, tickets to the Science Museum and a check presentation of a $10,000 donation made in Ryan’s name to the Children’s Hospital, where Ryan was treated.”

Asked by Principal Liberti what he liked best about his visit to Amazon Robotics, Ryan responded without hesitation.

“Everything,” he said.