Callista Dillion is a loving nine year old at Dixie Bee Elementary. And anyone who knows her; knows she has a zest for life and a passion to cook.
She’s been cooking since she was four, and everything she’s learned has come from her best friend, her Nana.
To show her gratitude; Callista created a cookbook.
“There’s a lot of recipes I love doing with my Grandma. And a whole lot of memories,” said Callista Dillion.
“I was surprised. But then again I wasn’t; because Callista is always thinking of other people,” said Callista’s Grandmother, Cynthia Hodge. “She doesn’t think of herself. She is always thinking of other people. So it just warmed my heart to know that she was thinking a little bit of me while making these cookbooks.”
When you flip through the pages of this cookbook, you’ll see recipes that come straight from Nana’s kitchen. And the illustrations are done by the little Chef Callista herself. This project is a real labor of love.
“There are a lot of great recipes in there! And this is an original book made by a third grader.”
Yes, Callista is a Third Grader! But according to her Teacher; she’s no ordinary Third Grader.
“Callista has had a lot of challenges; and she always comes out smiling,” said teacher, Judy Lawler.
Callista has a chronic autoimmune disease called Scleroderma.
“She’s been under treatment for three years now. Right now we think she is in remission, and that’s a good thing. There is no cure, but she is responding well to the treatments,” said Hodge.
Treatments like Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug that she has to take every week.
“It’s an ugly disease, but she is responding to treatment. We are very lucky that she is responding to the treatment,” said Hodge.
Because of her journey Calilista helps others.
She raised $2,000 to buy a “red wagon” for Riley Children Hospital’s North Campus.
“If they had to go, she wanted them to have a good experience. She wanted them to have a wagon and that was important to her that she did that,” said Hodge.
“One thing that Callista did, that I always really admired her for, was that she’s always trying to help others,” said Lawler.
Whether it’s raising money or writing a cookbook. The people around her are so proud.
“I wish she could be my student forever. I wish this year could go on forever. I wish she was the daughter I never had.”