SINCLAIRVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Emmaline "Emma" Wilcox called Olive Garden the "grape restaurant" ever since she was a kid. Her cousin, Aaron Wilcox, said it's because there's grapes on the wall when you walk in the restaurant.
She was a spunky 7-year-old who grew up in a tight-knit family. Her older brother was her protector.
"He did his job and didn't let anybody hurt her," Emma's uncle, Camron Johnson, said. Caring, loving, joyful and smart are just a few ways Emma's family describes her.
"She turned a bad day into a bright day," Johnson said about his niece. Both Johnson and Wilcox said she knew how to make anyone giggle.
"She just loved dancing," Johnson said. Wilcox added, "She loved receiving the flowers too." Dance and cheer were her passions. Johnson said she was constantly tumbling around the house. Emma also loved to learn and her favorite subject was math. When Emma grew up, she wanted to be a dance instructor or veterinarian when she grew up.
"[She] just had that about her where you could tell she was going to be somebody big and somebody important," Wilcox said about his younger cousin.
But her smile now remains in the memories of photos. On Monday afternoon, the first grader lost her life in a car crash on State Route 60 in the Town of Pomfret.
"You just think like this is a nightmare this can't even be real right now," Wilcox said with tears in his eyes. Johnson added, "Just hoping one night, you're just going to wake up and just going to be back to normal. You're going to wake up from that horrible dream. Just it doesn't seem real."
Her mom, Shanna, tells 7 Eyewitness News that her daughter was an angel since the day she was born. Shanna said she knew Emma "was destined to change the world."
A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe for the Wilcox family in order to cover funeral expenses and other costs. In a day, more than half of the $30,000 goal was raised.
"My sister just wants everyone to know she's grateful for everyone's help. She wants to thank the guy that left the teddy bear with the pink balloon for her and she wants to thank the State Trooper for trying to bring her daughter back," Johnson said on behalf of his sister, Shanna.
Days after this horrible tragedy, the family is asking the community to wrap its arms around them and remember how her glowing smile touched so many lives in such a short amount of time.
"She was a walking angel while she was down here and I just think God needed another angel up there with him," Wilcox said.