- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - As soon as Catherine Violet Hubbard was born, her parents gave her a gift that ignited a passion she carried throughout her entire, and short, life.

“When we first brought her home from the hospital, we gave her this little purple mouse- it was a stuffed animal,” her father, Matthew Hubbard, said. “That was the beginning of her love for animals. It started with stuffed animals, and she must have had 200 of them. Then it moved on to real-life animals.”

Catherine loved animals so much that she once told her family she wanted to care for them one day. She even made personal business cards for herself that read, “Catherine’s Animal Shelter, Catherine Hubbard: Care Taker.”

The first-grader, however, did not live long enough to fulfill that dream. She was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012.

Months after the tragedy, her parents decided to create a state-of-the-art safe haven for animals to foster their daughter’s dream.

As part of their fundraising efforts, the Hubbards hosted a creature-themed “Butterfly Party” Saturday in Newtown. The second annual event, which drew hundreds of people to the Fairfield Hills Campus, featured live music, birds of prey demonstrations, a butterfly garden, face-painting, balloon animals and food trucks.

“Last year, the party was held at a private home,” said Catherine’s mom, Jenny Hubbard. “This year, we thought, ‘What better way to celebrate her life than by opening it up to the community, get some animals adopted and be able to show the community how much we’re grateful for all the support?’ “

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, which is expected to be completed by 2016, will provide adoptive services for companion animals, refuge for farm animals, native wildlife rescue and release services.

Since the Hubbards began seeking support for the sanctuary project, the response has been overwhelming and has generated more than $1 million in donations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals donated $50,000 during Saturday’s event to the cause.

Jenny Hubbard said the theme of the party was inspired by the 6-year-old’s favorite animal.

“She just loved all creatures, but there was something about butterflies that just mesmerized her,” Jenny Hubbard said.

The sanctuary will be built behind Reed Intermediate School in Newtown. The state donated the 34-acre parcel of land to the foundation last year.

“Now we’re working on the permitting process so we can start developing our intake building and our welcome center,” Jenny Hubbard said.

She said the foundation would soon launch a challenge to match the ASPCA’s donation.

Newtown High School senior Alondra Marmolejos, one of several students volunteering at Saturday’s event, was fascinated by Catherine’s intentions to help animals at such a young age.

“Knowing how young she was when she created all of this in her mind is absolutely breathtaking and beyond anything we can ever imagine,” Marmolejos said. “This is all happening because of her.”

Darin Knapp, who was attending the event with his wife, Ines, said he was impressed by the family’s strength to “bring something positive from such a tragic incident.”

The Hubbards, who also have a son, said the sanctuary is a way to improve the world.

“We found our strength in our faith and understanding that if we’re here, there’s a purpose and a reason,” Jenny Hubbard said. “Hopefully, we can make Catherine’s dream come to fruition.”

___

Information from: The News-Times, https://www.newstimes.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide