Golfer honors late Naugatuck girl at tournament

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Sophia Rose DaSilva, 10, passed away July 17 after a nearly two-year struggle with brain cancer. Country Club of Wa¬terbury As¬sistant Golf Pro Jason Clark wore and distributed grey ribbons at a recent tournament in honor of Sophia. CONTRIBUTED

Even though Jason Clark did not play his best at the 77th Connecticut Open golf champi­onship at Fairfield’s Brooklawn Country Club, it was a success in another way.

Clark, who is an as­sistant pro at the Country Club of Wa­terbury, raised awareness for brain cancer in honor of 10-year-old Sophia Rose DaSilva.

DaSilva passed away July 17 after a two-year struggle with the disease.

Clark, his fellow golfers, and spectators wore grey ribbons to show their support for DaSilva’s family.

“It was something very simple to do to celebrate somebody’s life,” Clark said about wearing the ribbons.

Clark was introduced to DaSilva through his long-time caddie, Mike Santos, who is DaSilva’s cousin. Clark said he met DaSilva several times at family gatherings, and she always had a positive outlook.

“Personally, I couldn’t imagine being a parent dealing with and going through the ups and downs,” Clark said.

He said his simple gesture was very well received by the DaSilva family.

“When a tragedy does happen, you don’t have to go to the extreme to show support,” Clark said.

DaSilva’s aunt and godmother, Cina Santos, thanked Clark for taking the initiative to wear the ribbons. Santos’ daughter and friend made about 200 ribbons to give to Jason to hand out during the tournament last week.

“I thought it was very nice that he was able to make the tournament so that it brings awareness to brain cancer,” Santos said.

DaSilva was diagnosed with brain cancer nearly two years ago. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children after leukemia, accounting for about 21 percent of childhood cancers. Each year, around 4,000 central nervous system tumors are diagnosed in children and teens, according to the website.

“It’s just such a hard thing for anyone to go through, but especially a little girl,” Santos said.

Santos said DaSilva touched many people’s lives in such a positive way.

“The one thing that first comes to mind is this little girl was always happy,” Santos said.

She said she was always smiling and adored by her teachers and classmates at Salem Elementary and Hillside Intermediate schools.

DaSilva finished sixth grade at Hillside before she died.

Santos said DaSilva never had any problems in school, and only missed school when she had to go to the doctor.

“She participated however she could,” Santos said.

Classmates wrote her cards saying they missed her laugh.

“Everyone was great to her,” Santos said.

DaSilva loved scrapbooking with her mom, swimming, and soccer, according to Santos.

She said DaSilva was happiest when she was spending time with her friends, family, and parents.
“She’s definitely daddy’s little girl,” Santos said.

Santos said DaSilva was always positive, saw beauty and good in everything, and had a huge sense of humor.

“The way she was helps comfort me to deal with the fact that she died,” Santos said. “I think she’s our little angel, and she’s watching over us.”

Santos said DaSilva’s courage was an inspiration to others.

“Because of her, I’m a better mother, and a better person. I will always thank her for that,” Santos said.

Memorial Ccontributions may be made in DaSilva’s name to the American Cancer, Society/New England Division P.O. Box 1004 Meriden, CT 06450, or the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor, Brookline, MA 02445, or the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, 282 Washington St., Hartford CT 06106.