WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Since 2012, Washington Elementary School student Sophia Pedrazzi, 11, has raised more than $10,000 to help two friends who have medical needs through her annual fundraiser Sophia’s Funds For Friends, which will be held on June 10 at 90 Ravine Ave. in West Caldwell.
The event will sell Sophia’s personal artwork as well as pieces from local artists, homemade taco spices and toys that have been donated in order to raise money for her friends, Rafiella Koplean and Owen Wevodau.
Wevodau was diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, which limits the use of his joints. Because this diagnosis requires many surgeries each year, 50 percent of the proceeds will help Owen’s family with medical expenses.
The other 50 percent will go toward Koplean, who has Epidermylosis Bullosa (EB), a skin disease that blisters. According to Sophia’s mother, Janet Pedrazzi, everything Rafiella does hurts her skin and rarely gets a break from pain.
"As a mother, I have always tried to teach my children the importance helping others and of making a contribution to your community,” Janet Pedrazzi said. “I never imaged Sophia would take it this far. I am in awe of her focus and determination to make a difference.”
According to Janet, Sophia was inspired to start her own fundraiser after seeing her mother participate in Rafi’s Runs and Owen’s race to support the two families. She said she came home from work one day to find that Sophia had already planned out her fundraiser and Janet was ready to support her in this effort.
Ever since that day, Sophia’s Funds For Friends has been a success and continually surpasses the previous year’s proceeds.
This endeavor is also supported by Modern Music Academy and Gelotti Ice Cream of Caldwell, which are both currently serving as toy drop-off centers in support of the event. In fact, Gelloti recently offered to match every toy donated with another toy.
“I am immensely grateful to our entire CWC community for all of their support,” said Janet. “It takes a lot of help from many local families to make this sale the success that it is. We are truly thankful and blessed to be living amongst such kind and generous people."
According to her mother, Sophia once said that what she is doing is important “because it lets people know what is out there and what other people are dealing with.”
“It also teaches people to be thankful for what they have,” Sophia said.
The community is encouraged to join Sophia on her mission on June 10 to help Owen and Rafi. To learn more, contact Janet Pedrazzi at firstname.lastname@example.org.