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Little Rock girl spends 13th birthday donating to cancer center

Mary Claire sold her homemade cookies at a school event and at the Little Rock Farmers' Market, where she raised $1,000 to a local cancer treatment center.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Little Rock girl spent her thirteenth birthday handing over a $1,000 check to the CARTI Cancer Center Tuesday after raising money by selling cookies.

13-year-old Mary Claire Harper started baking five years ago with her mom. It has since become one of her favorite things to do.

"I get great reviews," she said.

But the cookies she is baking are helping people fight cancer. Mary Claire chose to bake hundreds of cookies for cancer for a school community service project. She spent three days in the kitchen at school making them.

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"[With] me and my best friend and my teacher," Mary Claire said.

She sold five-hundred of those cookies at a school event and another five-hundred with her teacher at the Little Rock Farmers' Market. Together, she raised $1,000 for the CARTI Cancer Center in Little Rock.

"Some of them didn't even want the cookies, they just wanted to give to CARTI," Mary Claire said.

She chose to give to the center because it helped her own mom fight the disease.

"When I found out my mom had cancer obviously it wasn't the greatest news," Mary Claire said.

Michelle Harper said it was a proud moment seeing her daughter handover the check.

"What's incredible is I had no input on her decision on what to do with her project," Michelle said.

Michelle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 25 years ago, and in 2018 it came back. But, she is currently back in remission.

“Currently, they have treated the tumors in my neck and they have killed those," Michelle said.

She said she is grateful her daughter wants to continue to help others fight cancer.

"The fact that Mary Claire wanted to give back to CARTI is just precious…very, very meaningful to me," Michelle said.

Mary Claire said not only were her cookies a hit, but she hopes her donation will help other families stay strong.

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"It'll be hard, it'll be difficult but just know that you'll be able to get through it," Mary Claire said.

Mary Claire said her goal is to open up her own bakery one day, where she can continue donating to cancer research.