By Alice Kenny
Thanks to the creativity and compassion of fourteen-year-old Victoria Robustello, elementary-school children felled in the Newtown massacre will be honored along with local heroes at the upcoming CYO Club of Champions dinner.
Now in its 77th year, the upcoming CYO Club of Champions dinner scheduled for this summer celebrates individuals who provide inspiration and leadership for youth.
Victoria agreed to display her painstaking painting that depicts each of the 20 slain children floating above a cloud at the event on June 26, 2013. She is also sending framed copies to the children’s families as well as the Sandy Hook Fire Department and school. A $250 donation, in turn, will be given anonymously to The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc. in recognition of Victoria’s painting.
A student at John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction in upstate Dutchess County, Victoria began sketching the painting on her drawing table in her bedroom shortly after the mass murder in December 2012. She pulled up web photos of the children, and then recaptured in painting their smiling faces and the clothing they wore.
“It just broke my heart,” her mother, Pam Robustello, said, “knowing that when it would be finished there would be 20 children on that portrait that are no longer with us.”
Although Victoria acknowledges the pain she felt reproducing the children one by one, she seems to have found comfort as well.
“There will never be any answers for something so senseless,” she wrote the parents when she sent them copies of her paintings. “But I want you to know that I pray for you daily.
“I hope you enjoy the portrait that I have made for you and that it will give you some peace in knowing that they are all angels now together, still playing still singing, still having fun.”