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Cups for Connor: Messages of hope in a Bristol fence

BRISTOL -- Southside Elementary School is located along Wolcott Street in Bristol. A fence separates the school fields from the street and locals have become accustomed to seeing messages of kindness and support pop up every few weeks.

"Sometimes it's a little hard to come up with a new slogan. Sometimes I pick really long ones and that's really daunting," said Pat Zadrozny, a Librarian and Media Assistant at Southside. "I get such pleasure out of doing it and I know the people do so that's why I do it."

Pat and her husband, Ben, put up the first message in 2014 which read "USA Brave." The creations have grown more popular and consistent since then. Most of the fence messages stick with themes of kindness or inspiration.

Pat makes the messages by stuffing individual cups into specific rings in the fence that runs along the school property.

The messages took on new meaning recently in honor of Connor Elbert, a 10-year-old who is planning to begin 5th grade on Thursday after taking more than a year off for cancer treatment. Many of the messages are now dedicated to him and his fight.

"I'm so excited. It's been so long since I've been in a classroom," said Connor. "It just makes me so happy to see that people are cheering me on."

Last September, Thomas Stickels noticed the project and began donating 2000 cups to the cause. He donated another 2000 this past May.

Pat said she's excited to begin the new school year, and hopes Connor will enjoy it too.