Every act of kindness counts, especially for Jean Ferrara and her 14-year-old son Kevin.
Last June, Kevin was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma and leukemia. Rounds of chemotherapy took its own toll on Kevin’s body — he faced kidney failure, as well as continuous infections and fevers. Despite a rough year, on Nov. 7, Kevin and his mother experienced an act of kindness they’ll never forget. On Saturday, Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Suffolk County chapter and Sky Zone in Mount Sinai, teamed up to fundraise money and grant Kevin’s wish of going Walt Disney World.
In honor of the fundraiser, Sky Zone debuted its first glow in the dark jump-a-thon to help raise money for Kevin’s cause. Neon tape, face paint and shirts lit the indoor trampoline park for this 12-hour event, which started at 9 p.m.
Earlier this year, Make-A-Wish Suffolk County contacted Farrara, informing the single mother from Bohemia about her son’s Make-A Wish opportunity. To say she and her son were excited is an understatement. According to Farrara, she had no idea the event was advertised on 106.1 BLI or that it would attract the magnitude of community members it did.
While it’s unclear how many people attended the event thus far, Nicole Tumilowicz said the event was packed when the event began. Tumilowicz is the communications liaison for Sky Zone Mount Sinai. She contacted Make-A-Wish Suffolk looking to host a fundraiser at the trampoline park 10 months after the park opened in Mount Sinai.
Kellie Ryan, community relations manager for Make-A-Wish’s Suffolk County chapter, thought Kevin’s wish was a perfect fit.
“We just thought that it would be such a great idea to have this jump-a-thon where kids could come and constantly jump around and bring the same energy that Kevin does,” Ryan said.
Although Kevin is currently in remission, he has five more years before doctors consider him cancer free — he will undergo chemotherapy for three of those years. Doctors at Zwanger-Pesiri radiology in Medford discovered Kevin’s illness after conducting an X-ray and suggesting Farrara take her son to Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s emergency center. Doctors then discovered a floating mass in Kevin’s chest. Since Kevin’s lymphoma and leukemia were around the same stage, doctors treated Kevin’s leukemia.
“We all hear the word leukemia … but you don’t know what it is until you’re really involved,” Ferrara said.
According to Farrara, Kevin went into remission after nearly three weeks of chemotherapy. While the Make-A-Wish foundation is viewed as a foundation that caters to terminally ill patients, Ryan said the organization grants wishes to children between two and a half to 18-years-old with life threatening diseases.
“I think that’s really where the magic starts,” Ryan said about granting a wish. “It takes [their mind] off the dark period that they’re facing.”
Mount Sinai residents like Diana Mlyn and her daughter Emily were among the many who supported Kevin’s wish and attend the fundraiser. Although they didn’t know Kevin personally, Mlyn, a Pediatric Respiratory Therapist at Stony Brook Hospital, supports organizations like Make-A-Wish. She’s seen many kids benefit from the Make-A-Wish foundation.
For Kevin’s mother, having community members like the Mlyn’s at the event was a simple act of kindness that resonated with her.
“Every little thing, whether it’s a ‘Hello how are you?’ or something like this, is a gift,” Farrara said. “When you feel people care…that’s the greatest gift you can get.”