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Cedar Rapids 5-year-old uses ‘Kindness Rocks’ to help her older sister with special needs see the world

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 8:08 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cora Salls and her younger sister Becca, 5, have a relationship that’s stronger than a rock.

Cora has had a lot of medical struggles in her life. She was born with a genetic disorder known as Edwards syndrome.

“She shouldn’t have survived birth,” her mom, Joy, said. “We were told she wouldn’t live to be more than a week old. I joke that she didn’t listen, she’s a little defiant because she just turned 7."

Cora has led a pretty active life.

“She swam in the ocean. She’s fed elephants. She’s climbed trees, rides horses,” Joy said.

The Salls family has also been involved with the “Kindness Rocks” project, painting rocks and hiding them for others to find and brighten their day.

That gave one of the Salls sisters an idea.

“Becca, Cora’s sister, came up with the idea since it’s hard for Cora to travel, to go find rocks in other places that people around the world could send rocks to Cora as a way for her to see the world," Joy said.

So their mom made a post, reaching many, many people in the 319 Rocks and Iowa City Rocks groups on Facebook.

“People from all over the country, starting to reach other parts of the world, have sent these painted rocks to both of them,” said Joy.

Suddenly, one rock turned into several, then more than a hundred.

“The first one we got, I think someone just went on Amazon and ordered some gemstones that came in a package,” Joy said. “But then the next day, we got like 17 packages, and the mailman came up with a big tote.”

Many rocks came with a note of encouragement or a little story about where they’re from or the person sending them.

“Somebody sent one in memory of their sister who had passed, and I was just in tears about that,” Joy said.

The rocks have come from as far as Alaska and the United Kingdom and there are more on the way from Australia and Africa.

They say it ‘takes a village.' The village for Cora and Rebecca has become the whole world.

“You say ‘live every day like it’s your last'," Joy said. “Cora has taught me how to truly do that. I don’t think you truly know what that means until you’re told that you have a kid that’s probably going to die. We really do that. We practice what we preach.”

The Salls are getting ready to move, and luckily their new home will have plenty of space for all of those rocks. Joy hopes the rocks one day serve as a memorial.

“My hope is, one day, to have them recirculate into the community in some way of honoring Cora,” Joy said. “Chances are she will pass before us, maybe having that be a memorial for her, as well.”

Joy has one final thought for everyone.

“Cherrish those around you, especially in times of stress and find the positivity.”

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