Double Fundraiser A Success

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The volunteer group Characters With A Cause attended Family Fun Day.
The volunteer group Characters With A Cause attended Family Fun Day.

On Saturday, July 18, the Joey Foundation, a nonprofit based in Levittown, hosted the first annual Family Fun Day and vendor show and The Kentucky Derby…Joey Style at Levittown Hall. Both events raised funds to donate duffel bags to foster children of St. Christopher-Ottilie Child and Family Services of New York. Foster children often have to transport their belongings in trash bags. Founder of the Joey Foundation, Ann Torcivia, said, “Giving these kids a duffel bag will give them some dignity back and boost their self-esteem.”

Over 100 people attended the events. “It was a blast,” said Torcivia.

Family Fun Day featured face painting, balloon animals, temporary tattoos, cotton candy and crafts for kids. Elsa from Frozen lead a singalong, and Bizzydoo and Macaroni Kid provided additional free activities for children. Princesses from the volunteer group Characters with a Cause entertained children as well.

Adults shopped at more than 50 booths featuring both direct sales and individual vendors. Attendees had fun at the photo booth and the stuff-a-bear station.

Guests then “raced their inner children” at the Kentucky Derby event that evening. They had their pictures taken in front of the step-and-repeat banner on the red carpet by Joel Harris of Joel Harris Photography, entered the derby hat contest and participated in the Chinese auction and sports memorabilia auction. Raffle prize tickets to a Broadway show and a Long Island Ducks game were donated by Long Island’s K98.3.

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Gary Brown of the Green Bay Packers was a celebrity jockey at the Joey Foundation’s Kentucky Derby event.

For the main event, bets were placed on celebrity jockeys racing toy horses. Gary Brown, former offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers; John Nitti, former New York Jets player; Meredith Gulfman, contestant on TLC’s The Next Great Baker; and John Theissen, founder of the Children’s Foundation, were celebrity jockeys.

“The celebrity jockeys really made the night with almost $2000 in auctions,” said Torcivia. The one horse without a jockey was named the “Joey angel horse.”

Everything at the derby was donated by local businesses, including Mille Grazie Pizzeria, B.K. Sweeney’s, Clare Rose, Little Kitchen Creations by Wendy, Carpets & Us, The Cake Don, Joel Harris Photography and many others. Torcivia thanked them all for taking the time to help and their generosity.

Thanks to the donations, “we are able now to help so many kids with our smile program,” said Torcivia.

Ann Torcivia started The Joey Foundation in memory of her son who passed away at age 6 due to aplastic anemia, a deficiency of the blood cells caused by failure of bone marrow development. Joey came to Torcivia’s family as a foster baby. At 4 months of age, he was diagnosed with the terminal illness. “We adopted him knowing he was not going to be with us for long,” Torcivia said.

Joey spent many months at a time in the hospital. “He was the mayor of the kids’ playroom,” she said, and added that Joey would help the other kids and give away his birthday presents to them because “they needed it more.”

“This is a way now that I can keep his memory alive. I can continue to do what he used to do,” said Torcivia.

The Joey Foundation’s mission is to positively impact the lives of children. The funds it raises assist sick and needy children and their families through their “Make a Child Smile” program, support the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House and are donated to other children’s charities.

“We would love it if people who are in need find us,” Torcivia said. Last year, the Joey Foundation provided 225 Christmas and Hanukkah presents to children in need. The organization has also provided an iPad to a developmentally disabled child, money to a school in Jamaica to repair the roof, donations to a local school for the deaf, a swing set to a child with Stage 4 cancer and many other worthy causes.

The Joey Foundation is currently holding a raffle for an 8-day, 7-night stay for four in Hawaii. Tickets cost $30 (or $100 for four) and the drawing is open until August 15. For more information about the foundation or the raffle, or to donate, contact Ann Torcivia, at 516-822-5966 or search The Joey Foundation on Facebook.

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