TOTOWA, NJ - Local resident Courtney Charatsaris held her eighth annual "Cabaret for a Cure" fundraiser at the Barnyard & Carriage House on March 26.
This year's musical performance, attended by over 200 people, was Broadway themed, and raised several thousand dollars in order to help the medical needs of 13-year-old Maria Hajiantoniou from East Rutherford.
"Maria's pituitary gland had been a little bigger than the size of a golf ball," Charatsaris explained. "She had surgery on it but a little piece was left behind, because it was stuck to a blood vessel. Doctors did not want to take the risk of pulling on a blood vessel, and didn't think it would regrow. But, it grew back within a year and she underwent another surgery."
Charatsaris added that the same problem then occurred once more with her gland after the surgery.
"This time, Maria underwent radiation for 31 days," she said. "The tumor is still in her brain but has not grown. She takes three of five hormone replacements and she is doing well."
The teen enjoys playing soccer, softball and cheering. She also enjoys drawing and writing stories.
Since creating Cabaret for a Cure eight years ago, Charatsaris has raised thousands of dollars for cancer charities each year in order to help cancer patients and families in financial distress due to medical costs of fighting the disease.
Among the numbers performed were "On Broadway" from Smokey Joe's Cafe, "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls, "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, "What You Own" from Rent, "Forget About the Boy" from Thoroughly Modern Millie and "This is the Moment" from Jekyll and Hyde.
Singers who performed also included Venessa Baez, Tracey Turano, Taylor Roberto, Kristen Hariton, Lia Sprechini, Samantha Kaplan, Nychole Hunt, Kaitlyn Gandolfi and Fallon Goskowski. Ron Ceglia of Parsippany also performed. Sound was also provided by Joe DeCelles of Image Karaoke. Several local businesses and organizations also helped to sponsor the event. Some of the local sponsors were The Fine Grind of Little Falls, Jersey Johnny's of Woodland Park, Jersey Mike's of Little Falls and Bob's Furniture of Totowa.
"The audience seemed to love it and that was great," said Charatsaris. "We had such a big turnout for the eighth annual event. It seems like every year we grow and it gets well received. It just makes me excited to plan the ninth!"