Over 600 people came out for an evening of dinner and dancing on Nov. 19 for the first Secaucus community ball that raised $40,000 for Tomorrows Children’s Fund (TCF), a nonprofit organization founded by parents of children with cancer and blood disorders.
“It was a great success,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
“I’m just so pleased that our community came together for an organization that helps children with cancer,” said Councilwoman Susan Pirro. “It shows what Secaucus is all about.”
The nonprofit has supported Secaucus children including Ava Rose Krajewski, a 2-year-old girl who is being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Gonnelli presented Ava Rose, who was in attendance, with a special gift of jewelry at the ball.
Support from friends, family, and beyond
“I can’t believe we fit all of Secaucus in one room!” said Charles Krajewski, Ava’s father, when he accepted the gift from the Mayor. “We are overwhelmed by the great amount of support we’ve received…Truly amazing. We’re confident Ava will defeat this.” He thanked everyone for the support.
“It is very nice to give back.” – Deepa Ramchandani
Founded in 1982, TCF provides emotional and financial support to families of children battling cancer. When a child is diagnosed, he or she is given the services of a child life specialist. Parents are connected with a social worker to determine how TCF can fulfill their needs.
Sense of togetherness
Many attendees had a personal connection to the cause and felt united as a community in coming together. Councilman James Clancy said it was important “that the town’s people can get together and give a hand to an organization that helps all young children affected with cancer.”
Clancy said his grandson Ayden was born on Dec. 21, a day apart from Ava in the same hospital, and that his son Michael happens to be best friends with Charles Krajewski.
Several residents felt a strong desire to give knowing what it means to be parents with children of their own.
Understanding among parents
“We wanted to donate to TCF. We have two kids of our own and are very grateful. It is very nice to give back,” said Deepa Ramchandani, who was at the event with her husband Monesh. The couple has lived in Secaucus 11 years. They donated on behalf of their 6-year-old daughter Krisha and their 3-year-old son Harshan, who both celebrated birthdays the day before and day of the event respectively.
Pat Guma, head of the Guma foundation, knew firsthand what it was like to have a child with cancer, having lost her son Ralph Jr. He was a cancer survivor for 23 years and had a brain tumor. The Guma foundation donates $5,000 - $10,000 to TCF each year, specifically for children dealing with brain tumors.
“TCF has dedicated a room to Ralphy where parents go and get away from the Hospital environment,” said Guma. The break room is named “Ralphy’s Room.”
The event included dinner, dancing, entertainment, raffle prizes that raised $5,880, and a silent auction for a flat screen television that raised $1,100. Dollar donations for heart stickers that were sold throughout town raised another $2,500. The remaining funds were raised in individual donations, corporate sponsorships and ticket sales.
To learn more about TCF, visit: http://www.atcfkid.com/
For updates on Ava, visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/avarosekrajewski.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.