Health & Wellness

South Brunswick: Hugs For Brady Raises More Than $132K At Annual Winter Gala

53df0c4f0705200f9ca7_99a0649be859f0093adf_IMG_7819.JPG
Credits: Charles W. Kim photos
144e82bc4a5593f4f866_IMG_7800.JPG
0938345674613f9884ca_IMG_7804.JPG
7a2328f4690e516268bf_IMG_7811.JPG
272e93fd0f9e53e180e4_IMG_7818.JPG
7dd6e85f66b1d6b5175f_IMG_7829.JPG
20462a34f32efbf3530b_IMG_7856.JPG
9b0b4ed9fffd01c58435_IMG_7857.JPG
2e37bc13e3b7a4ec6235_IMG_7858.JPG
7685bd15f4ca6fa5811e_IMG_7860.JPG
c71d88e68eeca3c970c3_IMG_7864.JPG
45b02c4696bdc34187db_IMG_7866.JPG
f6ddd996df70d156eb46_IMG_7869.JPG
dd8049e2504dfba86fb2_IMG_7871.JPG
dfcd9852c50736353d4d_IMG_7893.JPG
3d99e9b75990e32cad1e_IMG_7899.JPG
53df0c4f0705200f9ca7_99a0649be859f0093adf_IMG_7819.JPG

SOMERSET, NJ – With rare exception, epidemics aren't usually things to be encouraged.

Generally speaking, the word conjures up mental images of infectious disease but BELFOR Holdings, Inc. CEO Sheldon Yellen has a more hopeful context in mind.

Yellen – being honored with the Hugs For Brady Foundation's Pediatric Cancer Humanitarian of the Year Award – expressed a desire to “start an epidemic of being nice,” in prepared remarks read on his behalf during the organization's sixth annual Winter Gala Saturday night at The Palace at Somerset Park.

Sign Up for E-News

“We need to be nice to each other and we need to share that more often with more people,” he said.

Punctuated by smiles and laughter, the roughly 400 people in attendance embraced each other with “a hug for Brady” at Yellen's urging, as a testament to “the power of being nice."

Hugs For Brady is a local foundation set up by Mike and Sherrie Wells after dealing with cancer in their son, Brady who died in 2010 from a rare form of leukemia at just 23 months old.

In the last four years, the foundation has raised more than $1 million to fight childhood cancers.

In a night that swung between emotional extremes, Emcees Bert Baron of 1450 WCTC talk radio and pediatric cancer survivor Lilly Daneman kept the program going and the energy high, with a little help from a live band that kept the crowd moving out on the dance floor.

Following a cocktail hour and the opening of a silent auction that ran all night, Brady's mom and organization Founder Sherrie Wells spoke of the need to continue the foundation's work.

“Childhood cancer does not discriminate,” she said, visibly moved. “Boys, girls, children of all ages, races, religions and nationalities. Childhood cancer does not discriminate.”

During Brady's 10 months of treatment, Wells said that she felt like she was not just an oncology mom to her own son but to all kids battling cancer.

“All the children, no matter what type of cancer they have, are extremely special and I could not help but fall in love with each and every one of them,” she said. “Determined to change the world, a childhood cancer or one fundraiser at a time, Hugs for Brady Foundation was born.”

The emotion was palpable during the video segments of the program, in which pediatric cancer patients sang a song together and images of Brady filled the screen.

Women dabbed at the corners of their eyes with quickly dug-out tissues and more than a few throats were cleared as people composed themselves.

Seizing the night and the microphone, Robert Milligan, Jr. solicited pledges from around the room in various dollar amounts, ranging from $10,000 to $100, to help fund research and provide resources to hospitals and cancer institutions.

Guests were then invited outside on the terrace to watch a dazzling fireworks display, with men surrendering their jackets to short sleeved and bare shouldered women.

Patty DeGeorge, 63, of Barnegat in Ocean County, said that she learned about the gala from her daughter and that she and her husband traveled the distance because of shared personal experience.

“Both my husband and I work with kids in education and know kids who have had cancer and we really support the cause,” she said. “They (the fireworks) were truly beautiful and all I could think of was that little guy Brady and I thought he's probably watching them from up high.”

Receiving the Ellen Gambatese Pediatric Cancer Volunteer of the Year Award were Hugs For Brady 5K and Family Fun Run race co-directors David Brockman, Jodi Brywka and Thomas Morris.

As the South Brunswick Director of Parks and Recreation, and having known the late Ellen Gambatese, Morris said he felt the honor was twofold.

“Certainly it was such a thrill to be honored in memory of her and, on the other side of the coin, for the Hugs For Brady Foundation,” he said. “It really meant a lot for me and again, you don't do it for the recognition, but certainly, when you do get recognized, and especially for these two things – for Ellen and for Hugs For Brady – there's nothing better than that.”

Accepting the Randy Siegel M.D. Pediatric Cancer Medical Humanitarian of the Year award for University Radiology was board certified nuclear medicine radiologist Dr. Murray D. Becker.

South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese said that he hoped Wells achieved her fund-raising goals to help pediatric cancer patients.

“Sherrie and Michael live right behind me so we watched that little baby grow and it was kind of heartbreaking when this happened to him,” he said. “We're really pleased that Sherrie has done such a fantastic job of making people aware of this really sad disease that affects little kids.”

According to Wells, this year's Winter Gala raised more than $132,000 for the foundation.

Foundation sponsors for this year include The Palace at Somerset Park, Midwood Distributors, ProCure Proton Therapy, Wiss, Wawa, Goddard of North Brunswick and Jersey Physical Therapy.

This year's friends of the foundation include state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16, Jeff and Linda Forbes, St. Augustine of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church, On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina, Adcorp Media Group, Hermann Services Inc., Hoffmann and Sons Plumbing and Valerie McRae, M.D.

The Palace at Somerset Park is located at 333 Davidson Avenue.

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at ckim@tapinto.net or nwells@tapinto.net.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Milltown/Spotswood

Mayors Push for Law Permitting Driver's License for Immigrants

July 20, 2018

PERTH AMBOY, NJ - Five mayors from northern and central New Jersey today called for passage of a state law permitting immigrants to get driver's licenses even if they are undocumented, saying it boosts public safety as well as the economy.

"This is important for every resident for a better life and a better life for the state of New Jersey," said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda ...

Franklin Township: Danielsen Sponsors New Medical Marijuana Bill

July 20, 2018

SOMERSET, NJ - Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D), who represents the 17th District in New Jersey State Assembly, recently unveiled his sponsorship of Assembly No. 10, a bill revising the requirements to authorize and access medical marijuana.

This announcement comes in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s plans to open six more dispensaries claimed to help better serve New Jersey’s ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Carousel_image_0a79b254f45583c80861_048

Wed, August 22, 8:30 AM

American Legion Post 253, Spotswood

Bus Trip to AC Air Show

Giving Back Other

Wed, August 22, 8:30 AM

American Legion Post 253, Spotswood

Bus Trip to AC Air Show

Pinkin Vows to Fight for Clean Water at Jersey Water Works Event

July 20, 2018

HAMILTON, NJ - Speaking to a crowd of about 110 people at Jersey Water Works’ annual membership meeting on Thursday, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex), who chairs the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, spoke about New Jersey’s mounting obligation to update the state’s water infrastructure and to provide all New Jersey residents with clean drinking ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

July 14, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)

 

Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see Little perform at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where he has been doing his uncanny ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...