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'Tutu Lady' delivers joy to sick kids

By Anne Thompson
NBC News

Laura Pita is a bundle of energy and she needs it. She is the mother of four tireless boys. Like so many moms, her plate is overflowing. Raising four boys is a full-time job on its own, but one of her sons, 8-year-old Josh, has an acute form of leukemia. Last April, as Josh was undergoing intensive chemotherapy, Pita was also comforting her mother, Roberta "Emmy" Burt who was dying from melanoma. That month, on the day Emmy died, a distraught Pita decided she had to do something positive, something that would remind her that there is happiness in life.  

"I lost my mommy. I needed to do something or else I would have gone insane," Pita said.  

So she decided to make a tutu for her niece. That act in a moment of despair was the start of her charity "Emmy's Heart" that is bringing moments of fun and joy in the pediatric wards of Joe DiMaggio Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., and Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Looking at the tutu, Pita thought of all the little girls she saw fighting cancer. The drugs that promise to make them well also take their hair, their glowing complexions, and their energy. But Pita knew they were beautiful and knew her tutus could remind them of their inner beauty. As for the boys, capes would make them feel like superheroes. With the help of friends, Pita started making tutus and capes and taking them to Joe DiMaggio, where Josh is treated. Watch the faces of scared children transform into confident smiles as they put on the capes and tutus and you will see that Pita's creations have magical powers.

Instantly, the children go from the difficult reality of being sick to their world of imagination. They become Captain America, Superman, ballerinas, and princesses. They jump, they twirl and most of all, they laugh. Pita's son, Josh, calls himself the Chemo Kid. He is vanquishing his leukemia, now getting chemo just once a month to keep his illness in check. So far, Pita said, they’ve distributed 250 tutus and about 200 capes.

"I honestly thought here and there I would drop off a tutu for the girls, I had no idea -- no dream ever that this would happen," said Pita, whose family has spent $4000 on the charity since April 2011.  

They call her "The Tutu Lady." I think you'll agree, they can call her a superhero too. 

You can learn more about Emmy's Heart by visiting their website or emailing Laura Pita at laura.pita@emmysheart.org.