North Branford, CT

"The town with the biggest heart"

Lyla and her classmates and friends hold up a banner that reads “Love for Lyla” to show their support for her at the North Branford High School Homecoming football game. (Credit: Stephanie Swann)

My dear friends, the Bogardus Family, recently lost their 9-year-old daughter, Lyla Ann Bogardus, to cancer. I have never in my life seen an entire town rally around a child and their family in such a tremendous way. The level of kindness and generosity that they displayed throughout the years of Lyla’s seven-year battle with cancer was simply amazing. Lyla’s favorite color was purple and the entire town took that to heart — whether at football games, fundraisers, meal deliveries — they were there every step of the way to support the Bogardus family through Lyla’s brave battle. This is a town that exemplifies what it means to have a very big heart.

Lyla and her family enjoy a day of pumpkin patch picking. (Credit:Stephanie Swann)

The public schools in North Branford held a district-wide fundraising event, Love for Lyla, at the high school homecoming football game. All of the proceeds from the booths were to help Lyla and her family with medical expenses.

Lyla grins from ear to ear at the outpouring of love from her town. (Credit: Stephanie Swann)
Locals don embroidered “Love 4 Lyla” sweatshirts to support the little girl in her fight with cancer. (Credit: Stephanie Swann)

Lyla passed away on Christmas Day after battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscle cancer. In honor of her and the Bogardus family, residents of North Branford decorated the town in purple (Lyla’s favorite color) placing ribbons on their mailboxes, trees, and lamp posts throughout January.