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Image: Taylor Godwin
Courtesy Jamie Hale
Taylor Godwin, 7, loves selling Girl Scout cookies and donating them to U.S. troops.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 3/7/2013 4:48:24 PM ET 2013-03-07T21:48:24

Taylor Godwin, 7, is one cookie who doesn’t crumble.

The Girl Scout, battling pituitary dwarfism and epilepsy, is the smallest in her troop but has sold the largest number of cookies. She’s already peddled more than 1,500 boxes — 1,275 of which got donated to U.S. service members as part of the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio’s “Operation: Sweet Appreciation” campaign.

Taylor, a second-grader who favors art class, shows her appreciation by sending her customers thank-you cards with a picture of herself.

To what does she attribute her sweet sales success? Hard work.

“I tried my hardest,” Taylor told TODAY.com.

Blizzards and snowstorms in her corner of the world — Willoughby, Ohio, on Lake Erie — didn’t stop Taylor from selling Samoas (although her mom got sick and couldn’t drive her at times).

Image: Taylor Godwin
Courtesy Jamie Hale
Customers who buy Girl Scout Cookies from Taylor Godwin receive this picture with their thank-you cards.

Taylor went well beyond door-to-door sales. She trekked to businesses and nursing homes, and she made sales calls and pushed cookies over email. A local roofing vendor, Willoughby Supply, placed her biggest single order, donating 600 boxes to service members.

“Even if it’s freezing cold and a blizzard, we’re out knocking on doors,” Taylor’s mother, Jamie Hale, told TODAY.com. “It takes her mind from everything.”

“Everything” includes the seizures that have afflicted Taylor since age 2. Her small stature and the fact that the tooth fairy hadn’t visited her once became a medical issue last year, when doctors discovered that her brain’s pituitary gland wasn’t producing any growth hormone.

Taylor has since started taking anti-seizure medications and injections to stimulate her growth. She’s gained 3 inches in height and 9 pounds in weight, and she’s also lost two teeth. Good signs, for now.

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“We don’t know how long the medications will help,” said Taylor’s mother, 29.

Taylor said she feels OK much of the time: “Just some days I feel bad.”

When she first joined the Girl Scouts last year, Taylor was so shy that she clung to her cousin, Cecilia, the daughter of the troop’s leader. But everything changed in the months that followed. Today, Taylor is a spunky goofball who wants to be involved in everything and collect as many patches as possible for her Brownies sash. (Brownies are second- and third-graders in Girl Scouts.)

“She’s definitely a character and loves to make funny faces,” Troop 471 Leader Tiffany Smith told TODAY.com.

Image: Taylor Godwin
Courtesy Jamie Hale
Taylor Godwin, who has already sold more than 1,500 boxes of cookies, shows appreciation for her customers by making and mailing them thank-you cards.

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Taylor also knows how to get down to business. When she returns home from school, she’s eager to start selling cookies. Touting Samoas and Thin Mints has honed her social skills and taught her how to deal with rejection.

“We get told no a lot. It taught her to deal with that: Being disappointed and taking it with a smile on her face,” her mom said. “Sometimes people only donate one box, but it’s one more she didn’t have.”

Is the Girl Scout candy bar real?

Standing 3 feet 8 inches tall, Taylor is just like any kid, but her illness presents some unique dangers. Last year, a scooter collision during gym left her with a concussion, a skull fracture and her eyes swollen shut — forcing Taylor to cut her first Girl Scout cookie season short. She missed a month of school.

“Her bones are so fragile because they’re so tiny,” her mom explained.

Image: Taylor Godwin with her Girl Scout troop.
Courtesy Jamie Hale
Taylor Godwin, front, has pituitary dwarfism and epilepsy and is the smallest girl in Girl Scout of North East Ohio Troop 471.

That makes this year’s triumphs all the sweeter. She’s already more than doubled her previous tally of 650 boxes, which was enough to earn her a trip to Washington, D.C., last year for Girl Scouts Rock the Mall, a massive sing-along at the National Mall.

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This year, she’s supplied half the count toward the entire troop’s goal of 3,000 boxes. At first, the girls set 2,013 (the highest number on the order form) as their personal goal to earn the prize of a Kindle Fire, but then most settled for more realistic numbers.

Not Taylor, though. In her mind, the number 2,013 is a worthy goal that holds special significance.

“It earns me the CEO: Cookie Entrepreneur Officer,” she said.

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Taylor’s involvement in her community extends beyond cookies. She regularly reads to kindergartners, and she enjoys hearing “back when” stories from nursing home residents and the military veterans she met in D.C. last year.

“She’s quite a little cookie herself,” Smith said.

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Video: Mom teaches how to cook for cancer-stricken kids

  1. Closed captioning of: Mom teaches how to cook for cancer-stricken kids

    >> reporter: she is a true saint. she says the majority of the cats are adoptable. the ones that may not be will stay at the refuge forever, safe, warm and very loved.

    >> an amazing woman.

    >> she has wonderful volunteers she called her poop fairies.

    >> self-explanatory.

    >>> and apps that help erase all traces of your ex.

    >> i'm sticking around for that.

    >> first, this is "today" on nbc.

    >>> good morning, matt. daniel cook started as a volunteer at georgetown university hospital . but her unique program is having so much success, doctors say every hospital should have their own danielle . the secret to her popularity, food.

    >> reporter: at first glance, it's hard to imagine these children are sick.

    >> it's good!

    >> reporter: but each and every one is battling cancer.

    >> you want to stir?

    >> reporter: a diagnosis no parent wants to hear.

    >> the soup is almost ready.

    >> reporter: she knows from personal experience.

    >> it was a nightmare.

    >> reporter: a decade ago she learned her son, fabian, had stage three hodgkin's lymphoma.

    >> any parent whose child has to go through this, a parent would willi willingly happily trade places and do this for them but you can't.

    >> reporter: he faced surgery, chemotherapy and radiation which devastated his body.

    >> it feels like getting hit by a bus and finally standing up and when you stand up you get hit by train.

    >> reporter: keeping up his strength was battle, advice from the hospital as many calories as possible any way you can.

    >> they said let him eat mcdonald's, junk food .

    >> they said he needs the calories. if that means french fries and fast-foods, do it.

    >> you said?

    >> i said, well, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    >> instead, danielle focused her efforts on something she could do. cook.

    >> first, you take a chicken, really where oo start it.

    >> it really is. i went back to good homemade chicken broth .

    >> it worked.

    >> it works, it did.

    >> chicken soup was just the start. danielle went back to school, got a masters in nutrition and started to experiment with ingredients and recipes. along the way, wonderful news. fabian finished his treatment.

    >> no offense to anybody in this room but she is the best mother in the world.

    >> while most people would be happy to move on, danielle decided she had to give back, which meant going back. so armed with groceries, she returned to georgetown university hospital , where her son had been treated and volunteered in the pediatric oncology clinic.

    >> you guys having fun today?

    >> ever since, she's been teaching parents about nutrition and how to cook foods that will help with treatment and recovery. including some recipes they never imagined their kids would ea eat.

    >> i can give them love and food. that was really important. when he liked the food, that was even better.

    >> being really tasty and really yummy.

    >> should every oncology program have a danielle ? absolutel absolutely.

    >> dr. shad is chief of oncology.

    >> i truly believe cancer you cannot take care of in isolation. it's critical for them to eat right.

    >> the pasta sauce --

    >> the pesto? yes.

    >> danielle wanted to do even more. what about all the other cancer patients out there? with the help of georgetown hospital , she just published this book, happily hungry, filled with recipes and chapters to guide patients through all the stages of cancer treatment.

    >> perfect.

    >> that's good.

    >> so good.

    >> starring none other than the children she's cooked with at the hospital. devon, simone, aden. if you look carefully at the cover of the book, you might just recognize 6-year-old peter.

    >> these are good.

    >> you made a delicious drink.

    >> for their parents, it's been a godsend.

    >> it made me feel like a better mom. it made me feel like i could take care of my son the way he needed.

    >> danielle , what is the most important thing you feel you're doing there?

    >> food has an amazing healing quality to it. it allows the parent to really feel like, i can do this. i can help heal my child.

    >> the need for good nutrition with cancer treatment, matt, it's just common sense , but sometimes it takes a mother to put together a program like this. now, they hope it will spread to hospitals across the country, and the great part is those recipes, they're good for all patients, really good for all people, not just children.

    >> no. it should spread to hospitals across the country, jamie. thank you. we appreciate it.

    >>> you can find a few of those recipes and in

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