Giving Back

South Brunswick: Preschoolers Learn Charitable Lesson While Having Fun

Students at the Sand Hills Preschool in Kendall Park got to have some outdoor fun on Friday while raising more than $1,000 for the Hugs For Brady Foundation, a local charity that battles childhood cancer. Credits: Charles W. Kim
Students at the Sand Hills Preschool in Kendall Park got to have some outdoor fun on Friday while raising more than $1,000 for the Hugs For Brady Foundation, a local charity that battles childhood cancer. Credits: Charles W. Kim
Students at the Sand Hills Preschool in Kendall Park got to have some outdoor fun on Friday while raising more than $1,000 for the Hugs For Brady Foundation, a local charity that battles childhood cancer. Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim
Credits: Charles W. Kim

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - It looked like a perfect springtime picture, young children laughing as they jumped to break bubbles in the warm outdoor air.

However, it was much more than that for the 48 four and five-year-old students at the Sand Hills Preschool in Kendall Park.

The students were not just enjoying the good weather and a chance to play outside; they were raising more than $1,000 for a local charity fighting children's cancer.

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School Director Wendy Occhipinti said the school has held fundraisers in the past, like a trike-a-thon for St. Jude's Children's Hospital, but were looking for a charity this year that was closer to home.

A teacher's assistant at the school, Rita Migliore's nephew Edward has cancer and has been helped by the Hugs For Brady Foundation.

"We said, 'Why don't we do something (for a charity) that touches us personally,'" she said. "We also wanted to do something active with the kids."

The solution was a fitness course including bubbles.

Students brought in donations and then went outside on Friday in two different groups, 32 students at 11 a.m. and another 16 at 2:30 p.m.

The course was divided into four stations that included exercises, a bit of running, hopping, or skipping, and finally, a chance to jump around bursting waves of bubbles generated by the staff.

Both groups repeated the course twice, with a water break in between.

"The kids really liked it," Occhipinti said. "And the parents actually talked to them about childhood cancer and helping kids that are sick. They were excited to help."

Somerset resident Daniel Kline stopped by the school to watch his four-year-old son, also named Daniel, take part in the activity.

"This is really great," he said. "They can come out here and get some exercise and help others, it's good stuff."

Migliore said she was very happy with the event and that the help the Hugs For Brady gave to her nephew, now 14, was greatly appreciated.

"(Hugs For Brady) try and help the whole family," Migliore said.

Hugs For Brady is a local foundation set up by Mike and Sherrie Wells after dealing with cancer in their son, Brady who died 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.

Migliore’s nephew was first diagnosed with cancer in his leg at the age of 10, and then the cancer returned in his lungs at 14, she said.

The foundation helped by putting him in a bright room with items to help the teenager pass the time and feel a little more comfortable during numerous chemotherapy treatments, and then, more recently assisted with him getting a procedure that removed a part of the lung that could be tested for possible genetic therapy, she said.

She said her family has been very active with the charity and helps it raise money.

The money raised from Friday’s event may even go to buy a “Brady Buggy” for a hospital in the area.

The buggies are a wagon that can be attached to IV bottles and allow the children to be somewhat mobile during stays in the hospital or other medical facilities.

Each wagon costs about $1,200 each and the foundation has a goal of getting one in every hospital in the country.

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