BAY RIDGE — “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” was a popular song about never forgetting someone who is far away. The song took on new meaning on Thursday, Sept 19 as a group of children walked along Third Avenue in Bay Ridge tying yellow and gold ribbons along the avenue in remembrance of Sally Kabel, lovingly known as “Sweet Sally Sunshine,” whose memory is still very much alive in the hearts of all the people she touched.
Sally died suddenly on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, following a nearly lifelong battle with leukemia and other complications. Her death not only devastated her heartbroken family but an entire community that had rallied behind her in her brave battle with cancer.
Sally’s mother and father, Nicole and Matt Kabel, have continued to keep their daughter’s memory alive by helping to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.
A few months back, fifth through eighth grade students from Lutheran Elementary School at 440 Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge banded together to create three mural panels depicting things that meant something to Sally, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, pizza and a yellow butterfly. They presented the murals to the community on a beautiful sunny Thursday in June.
The murals were designed by LES art teacher Sam Wisneski, who said he created the basic design of the murals in his classroom with the prevailing themes of love, joy and peace, all things Sally radiated. His hope was to present a work that people could walk by and admire.
Friends and family joined together in the walk as several of them hid seashells painted with some of Sally’s favorite things around the neighborhood. Students from P.S. 185 also helped hand out the gold ribbons.
Prior to this, Stepping Stones Nursery School on 86th Street and Tiny Tots Playhouse on 88th Street had the kids tie gold ribbons on their fence in memory of Sally.
It’s not surprising that young Sally Kabel, known as ‘Sweet Sally Sunshine’ continues to inspire good will and compassion nearly a year after her death.
“Knowing the one-year anniversary of Sally’s passing would be a difficult day for our family, we decided to use the afternoon to do something positive in her memory,” Kabel told this paper.
“In past years, Sally’s ‘village’ of supporters would turn Bay Ridge gold in September to rally behind her and all kids fighting cancer,” he recalled. “We felt it was our responsibility to keep the momentum going for families like ours who are affected by this awful disease, and those who one day will be.”
Kabel continued, “We plan to turn this into an annual tradition where we can draw attention to the desperate need for improved childhood cancer treatment methods and keep Sally’s memory and everything she represented alive in the neighborhood.”