KC woman up for 'Sunniest Person' honor

Published On: Jul 17 2013 05:29:03 AM HST   Updated On: Jul 17 2013 05:31:21 AM HST

A woman who helps to brighten even the darkest days for people in the Kansas City area is one of three finalists for the title of Sunniest Person in America.

Lara Stanze is the founder of Spread a Little Joy, an organization that helps people with life-threatening illnesses.

Stanze began her quest after getting her mother a trip to see "The Oprah Winfrey Show" three years ago, just before her mother died from ovarian cancer. Stanze said she spent her mother's last days trying to fulfill her dreams.

"I feel like those are the moments that got me through losing her, looking back and having those moments in my head," Stanze said.

The experience with her mother led to the creation of Spread a Little Joy, and Stanze's effort to help as many people with life-threatening illnesses as she could. Dreams have ranged from expensive trips to a woman who wanted an inspirational playlist for her chemotherapy treatments.

"This not only lifts them up, it lifts their families up," Stanze said.

"I've never heard of any kind of program like that, but if there's going to be one, I can see why Lara's going to be in charge of it, because she's just great," said Barbara Marmet, an 8-year survivor of stage 4 breast cancer who got to take her family on a Caribbean cruise.

Ocean Spray has named Stanze as one of three finalists in its effort to find the Sunniest Person in America. Marmet said that comes as no surprise to her.

Click here to vote  |  Spread a Little Joy on Facebook  |  Spread a Little Joy website

"I truly want her to win this award and she so does deserve it," Marmet said.

Stanze sees the competition as just one more way to spread joy, and another way to remember her mother.

"I'm really, really happy with where it's going, and I think my mom would be happy," Stanze said.

A Kansas City firefighter who is battling bone cancer is on a family trip in Branson. Next week, a mother of three fighting cancer will fly to Florida so her children can see the ocean.

Most of the trips are funded through Stanze's network of followers online, and she said that the prize money and exposure can only help her spread more joy.

Voting continues through July 25 on the Ocean Spray Facebook page. Fans are allowed to vote once every day.


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