Kids & Family

7-Year-Old's Creative Tribute To His Sister Is The Good News You Need Today

She was his inspiration to enter a contest he didn't think he'd win. Now his creation will be bringing smiles to countless other children like her.

"What makes you happy?"

It's a simple question. And the answers can be as varied as the colors of a rainbow. For seven-year-old Tyler Cepkauskas from Homer Glen, IL, his list of smile-worthy items would most certainly include rainbows, along with his four-year-old sister, Emily.

Tyler recently got a chance to show what his happiness looks like when he designed a hospital gown for the Starlight Children Foundation. The foundation's annual Design-A-Gown contest asks folks to create a Starlight Gown with the simple question in mind – what makes you happy?

Tyler says the inspiration for his gown design came from Emily, who has Down Syndrome and was born with a congenital heart defect. She's already had three surgeries, and for each one Tyler has been by his sister's side, cheering her on.

Tyler's mom Laurie says that her children's love for each other is #siblinggoals. Laurie Wolf Cepkauskas/Facebook

The gown that Tyler designed is colorful, with a drawing of a rainbow and encouraging words like 'Hope,' 'Strength' and 'Love' written in bold letters.

"All these words are words I would say to her when she was sick," Tyler told the Starlight Foundation. "I would say, 'Emily, remember to have courage, strength, and hope. Remember you are a fighter and a survivor and most of all, remember you are loved.'"

Tyler says the words featured on the gown represent the encouragement he gives to Emiy when she's about to have surgery. Laurie Wolf Cepkauskas/Facebook

Tyler's design was chosen as a finalist out of about 1,000 submissions, and when it came time for the community to vote for the winning design, they chose Tyler's! This means his gown will be produced and distributed to seriously ill kids at children's hospitals all over the country.

Watch the heartwarming moment when Tyler finds out that he's the winner of the Design-A-Gown contest...

Laurie has been posting to social media and keeping everyone updated as the contest progressed.

"The support of the community quite honestly has been such an unexpected blessing," said Laurie, Tyler and Emily's mom. "Many have expressed how this has been such an exciting and fun distraction from all the scary stuff going on. Tyler has received numerous emails and messages from classmates and teachers, showing their support. It's been a lot of fun for him."

Tyler's design was chosen out of almost 1,000 other entries. Laurie Wolf Cepkauskas/Facebook

Tyler said he hopes his design will bring smiles to kids that have to undergo scary hospital appointments and surgeries, like his sister.

"When I entered this contest, I thought it would just be for fun," Tyler said in a celebratory Tik Tok video. "Never did I think I would win at all."

What a sweet and beautiful tribute for Emily, and now Tyler's work of art will be featured on kids' hospital gowns all over the country. We're sure that children who wear the gowns will appreciate the love and dedication that went in to making them. Way to go, Tyler!

How can you start something good?

Inspired by Tyler's beautiful act of kindness for his sister?

You can make a donation to the Starlight Children's Foundation to make sure that more wonderful designs like Tyler's will continue to be printed on gowns for sick children.

If you have a creative kiddo, or want to submit a hospital gown design yourself, be sure to follow Starlight Children's Foundation on Facebook to stay in the loop about next year's contest.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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