Friday, 20 January 2012 00:00
2011 was an extremely busy year for The Sarah Grace Foundation For Children With Cancer, Inc. The nonprofit dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families sponsored numerous fundraisers throughout the year and concluded 2011 with its annual Holiday Party!
Over 150 people (including children and their families) attended The Sarah Grace Foundation’s annual Holiday Party held Dec. 11 at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. The three-hour long party featured face painting from Cupcake the Clown, arts and crafts, entertainment from Barattini Productions DJ Entertainment and refreshments arranged through Bruce’s Bakery of Great Neck and Phil and Son Pizza in Plainview. The event concluded with a visit from Santa, who provided gifts to all the children.
In addition to party donations from Deirdre, Casey and Connor Szarmach, and the students at the St. Edward Confessor School in Syosset, toy donations and drives to benefit The Sarah Grace Foundation were sponsored by Hicksville Middle and High Schools, the Uniondale-based Ruskin, Moscou & Faltischek, P.C., Ray Leventhal Clothing in Plainview, the Aura Salon in Great Neck, and Lockwood, Kessler & Bartlett, Inc. in Huntington. Due to the generosity of all these donations, the foundation was able to provide gifts to party attendees, as well as inpatient children in the hematology/oncology wards and bone marrow transplant units at Cohen and other local cancer centers, with special assistance provided by Andy and the staff at the Delco Plaza UPS store.
As in previous years, Westy Self Storage also provided the foundation use of its Hicksville facility for event preparations; the staff graciously allowed them to use their facility not just for wrapping holiday party gifts, but also for packaging Halloween trick or treat bags earlier in the year.
“Thanks to everyone who donated and lent a hand, we were also able to package, ship and deliver over 300 gifts to various pediatric cancer centers throughout the New York area over the 2011 holiday season,” said Matt Weippert, founder of The Sarah Grace Foundation.
In 2003, Hicksville residents Matt and Marissa Weippert formed The Sarah Grace Foundation For Children With Cancer, Inc. in memory of their daughter who lost her battle with leukemia at the age of 12. For the past nine years the Weipperts, along with their son James and The Sarah Grace Foundation’s Board of directors and volunteers, have been working to help children and their families faced with the challenges and hardships brought about by childhood cancer.
The foundation works directly with social workers and staff members from the pediatric oncology departments at various New York hospitals, including the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids and Nassau University Medical Center, among many others, to meet the needs of not just the child undergoing treatment but their siblings as well.
Additionally, the foundation sponsors The Bead Program and, in 2011, was named the official Long Island/New York Regional Sponsor of the Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program, providing an educational, cuddly friend to hospitalized children throughout Long Island and the five boroughs.
“Cancer impacts the entire family,” said Weippert. “Our Foundation is centered on helping families and siblings, along with the child receiving treatment, through this difficult time.”
In order to continue providing families with the financial support needed to offset meal and transportation expenses, utility bills, specific child requests, and, at times, funeral expenses, The Sarah Grace Foundation relies heavily on donations and money raised through fundraisers.
In 2011, the foundation held its eighth Annual Night of Laughter and was the recipient of funds raised at the Optical Heights Silent Art Auction, the Kings Park/ Commack Alumni hockey game, and a Friendly’s fundraiser. Last year, the foundation also presented The Odd Couple, its first theatrical fundraiser, and raised money by offering a Holiday Extravaganza, a month-long raffle in November where prizes were drawn every day throughout the month.
Of the Holiday Extravaganza, Weippert said, “For a first-time fundraiser, it was very successful and helped fund our holiday events.”
Currently, The Sarah Grace Foundation is gearing up for its 2012 fundraising events, which include the ninth Annual Night of Laughter (Friday, March 23 at The Milleridge Cottage) and the second Annual Kings Park/Commack Alumni Hockey Game (Sunday, April 15 at the Superior Ice Rink in Kings Park). Additionally, the foundation plans to present its second theatrical fundraiser later this year and will hold its fourth Annual Hugs for Sarah Memorial Blood Drive on Saturday, March 31, at the William P. Bennett Community Center in Hicksville.
“Without these fundraising events, we would not be able to hold events such as the Holiday Party or continually sponsor our many programs and services,” said Weippert, adding, “In 2012, we are looking forward to our many other events that continue to provide the funding necessary for the programs we sponsor, as well as potentially expanding our corporate sponsorships.”