Last June, when she was just 12, Molly Pinta went to her very first pride parade and had an ambitious idea: She wanted to start an LGBTQ pride event in her hometown of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Instead of leaving that idea to her imagination, Molly got to work, and now her dream is becoming a reality.
“It feels really amazing that all the hard work has paid off,” Pinta, now 13, told NBC News. “A year ago we couldn’t even imagine that we would be as far as we are and that we would have raised so much money.”
With the help of her supportive parents, Carolyn and Bob Pinta, Molly Pinta raised over $40,000 to host the inaugural Buffalo Grove Family-Friendly Pride Parade, which will take place on Sunday.
"This parade really is important because of all the kids who don't have supportive homes, and they need to get it somewhere, and this is where they can get it," Molly Pinta told NBC Chicago.
The Pinta family also started their own nonprofit, the Pinta Pride Project. Carolyn Pinta said she hopes they can continue empowering the LGBTQ community in Buffalo Grove — a town of about 40,000 people less than an hour away from Chicago — by holding future parades and offering more events during the year.
“We thought the year would be raising money for the parade,” Carolyn Pinta said. “It turned into a group of people that really love and support each other, and help parents and teens that are navigating the waters of someone new in the family coming out.”
The inaugural Buffalo Grove Family-Friendly Pride Parade has received the support of many local groups and government officials, including Kevin Morrison, whose election in November was historic.
“I was inspired to run for office to become the first LGBTQ person on the Cook County Board of Commissioners because of people like Molly,” Morrison told NBC News. “I’m so glad to see events like these not just downtown but in my own community.”
Buffalo Grove’s inaugural pride event will take place on Sunday, June 2, and will feature 50 sponsors and more than 90 local groups, organizations and lawmakers from the Chicago area. But following the historic event, Molly Pinta’s work for Pride Month is not over.
On June 30, she will serve as the youngest-ever grand marshal of the annual Chicago Pride Parade. The event — like many other pride marches across the world this year — will recognize the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, which has been credited as the spark that ignited the modern-day gay rights movement.
“Molly is the result and a shining example of the hard work and sacrifices made by those generations of activists who for 50 years have toiled before, and leading up to Stonewall,” Richard Pfeiffer, one of the Chicago Pride Parade organizers, said in a statement shared with NBC News.