SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Over the past two years, the Murphee and Sugar Angel Foundation has been working to alleviate the financial strain on pet owners with critically ill cats and dogs. To do so, the organization holds fundraising events throughout the country with one planned locally at KC’s Korner on Oct. 2.

Founded by South Plainfield native Kate Caravella and San Francisco resident Jeannette Cereske, the Florida-based 501(c)3 non-profit provides monetary assistance to pet owners, fosters and rescue groups to offset vet visits, treatment, testing, medicine, surgery costs and, in some unfortunate cases, euthanasia.

“We provide people with the ability to get their pet the critically treatment they need, often times saving the animal’s live or providing a better quality of life for the time they have left,” said Caravella.

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The idea for the foundation stemmed from Caravella and Cereske’s own personal experiences with their critically ill cats. In March 2014, Caravella’s 16-year-old cat Murphee was diagnosed with feline lymphoma and was given two options: Treat Murphee with chemo and extend her life by four to six months or do nothing, which would have led to the cat’s passing within two weeks. Choosing to go the chemo route, Caravella and her husband, Bob Hahn, spent over $16,000 over the course of four months on veterinary treatments such as chemo, medication, intermittent ER visits intermittent, and diagnostics not to mention the cost of specialty food and other items.

It was around the same time that Caravella joined an international Facebook group for people who have pets with cancer. There, she met Cereske who had recently lost her own cat, Sugar, to breast cancer, and the two became friends and wanted to do something to help others faced the choose paying either their mortgage or their pets’ medical expenses.

“I remember thinking at that time how I was lucky enough and fortunate to have money to do provide the medical treatments for Murphee but found myself wondering what people who don't have the money do,” Caravella said, adding that she and Cereske also noticed that pets who didn't have a terminal prognosis were being euthanized simply because their owners didn't have the money for the necessary treatments to save them.

“It is very, very expensive,” she said. “Most don’t have pet insurance, which doesn't always cover everything, and you can’t get pet insurance after the diagnosis.”

Looking to help other pet owners in need, Caravella and Cereske launched the foundation in late 2014 with the goal of helping offset the costs of veterinary medical care for those in need. To date, the Murphee and Sugar Angel Foundation has provided financial assistance to some 120 dogs and cats; to be eligible, a pet owner must fill out an online application, met specific criteria, and be in financial need. All applications are responded to within 24 hours and, in eligible, funds are sent directly to the vet.

“We recognize that many owners are financially unable to treat their pets as recommended by their veterinary specialist, or are unable to pay for expensive medications,” said Caravella. “We strive to provide assistance and help with this frustrating challenge.”

To raise the necessary money, the foundation holds various fundraising events throughout the country, including but not limited to, Major League Baseball games and jewelry demonstrations to pub crawls and private parties.

“One-hundred percent of the donations go to the foundation, which is why fundraising is so important. Without these events, we would not have the money to help when applications come in,” she said, noting that the foundation also accepts personal donations earmarked for a specific animal.

The Oct. 2 fundraiser at KC’s is Caravella’s first in her hometown. It will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. and will feature a 50/50 raffle and silent auction for four Devils tickets (donated by South Plainfield resident Debbie Levine McCarthy), along with door prizes. A $10 per person donation at the door will over the cost of appetizers.

“I am hoping that we get a great turnout! Our foundation is amazing and in need of donations to continue our work. Plus, I have been kind of bragging about how I anticipate this will be one of our most successful fundraising events to date. My friends and family members from South Plainfield and the surrounding area tend to come together well and support each other,” said Caravella.

A 1989 graduate of South Plainfield High School, Caravella relocated to Florida in 1994 and is looking forward to raising money for her foundation will reconnecting with people she hasn't seen since moving to Florida 22 years ago.

“Friends, family, and former South Plainfield residents are coming from all over New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and even South Carolina and many have also pitched in to help make this event a success offering door prizes and other assistance,” said Caravella, adding, “I love New Jersey in the fall and wanted to a spend a little time up here. The fundraiser is turning into a mini-reunion that is also going to help benefit a good cause.”

Additional information on the Oct. 2 Murphee and Sugar Angel Foundation fundraiser at KC’s Korner is available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/290279744671652/ and online at http://www.murpheeandsugar.org. Anyone interested in attending can RSVP online at http://october2insp.app.rsvpify.com or via email at www.murpheeandsugar@gmail.com.

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