Sometimes a helping hand comes along just when you need it most. For two children battling cancer in the Town of Highland, that time is now. To aid in their plight, a new community charity has formed, and the founders of Neighbor’s Helping Hand have begun organizing fundraisers that they plan to conduct on an annual basis to continue helping community members in need.
The Yulan Fire Department, sponsor of the charity, will host the initial community-style event, the 1st Annual Walk and Softball Game, in collaboration with the Town of Highland Lions Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Yulan Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary and the American Legion Ambulance Corps.
This year’s beneficiaries will be eight-year-old Aiden Hanley and 13-year-old Autumn Carlucci.
Aiden received a heart transplant at the age of two and was diagnosed with Post-Transplant Lymphoma Disorder in late December 2010. He will need to receive six spinal taps and six bone marrow transplants in total, and has completed half of this series. Aiden receives treatment at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and each time he is admitted for five days or more. Despite these challenges, he is described as a happy-go-lucky kid who loves to play outside and is very curious.
Autumn recently underwent surgery to remove an Ependymoma brain tumor. Although the tumor is not expected to spread to other parts of her body, she faces a 40% chance that it will return. Once released after the initial surgery, Autumn must visit her doctor every three months for checkups and will need physical and occupational therapy. Her family says, “She has been so great throughout all of this. She is so positive and has been focusing on recovering so she can come home.”
Neighbor’s Helping Hand developed its mission, “to promote and protect the well-being and health of our neighbors through hard work and generosity,” after noticing the tremendous support the community lent in the past. One of the group’s founders is Yulan Fire Department chief Keith Blaut, who was touched by the outpouring of support he received from the community while battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The group decided to harness that commitment through regular fundraisers. “This community is really supportive, and if we give them an opportunity to be involved on a regular basis, they’ll come through,” said one of the organizers, Kaitlin Haas. “We want to be just as courageous in our support as these children have been in their battles.”
The group is selling sponsorships of road signs along the walk and bases in the ballfield. For details about the walk and softball game, see the sidebar. Donations or sponsorship of any level are invited. Contact committee chairs Meg Blaut at 845/557-8342, Kaitlin Haas at 845/557-8869 or Doreen Sweeney at 845/557-6540 for information.