YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Bibiana and Scott Denet were told 12 years ago that their second daughter, Chiara, could be born with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spine. The devout family prayed to St. Jude and were relieved when their daughter was born perfectly healthy.
“When she was born, we made a pact to give back,” Bibiana Denet said. “We have two healthy daughters and we just wanted to help a good charity.”
With the help of their friend, Nicole Grieve, they set up a neighborhood Easter egg hunt in the backyard of their Shrub Oak home. They raffled off two Easter baskets, and collected $300 from the 15 families that passed through. The proceeds were donated to a family in Yonkers whose infant was ill and required special formula.
The event grew to five baskets the next year, and proceeds were donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“As time went on, it just grew,” Grieve said. “People would drive by and see the eggs in her yard.”
Since then, the event has outgrown several venues, garnering participation from more community businesses and organizations each year. The entry fee is $10 per family and prizes are raffled off.
This year, they raised almost $5,000, putting them at more than $20,000 raised to date. About 200 people attended the event, which was held at Grace Lutheran Church in Yorktown. There were children’s games and refreshments inside prior to the hunt. Dozens of businesses, community organizations and some sports teams, such as the Rangers and Mets, donated raffle prizes.
“Everything you see here today has already been paid for or donated,” Grieve said. “So every dollar that comes through this door today, be it admission or a raffle, all goes back to St. Jude’s.”
The event takes months to prepare for. Denet swaps her Christmas decorations for the bags of empty eggs at the beginning of January, and she and her family start filling them then. Neighbors and friends donate bags of candy to help out.
The results of their hard work was a dazzling display of 20,000 brightly colored plastic eggs dotting the church’s lawn and low vegetation that was swept up by a swarm of excited children in about five minutes. The eggs held individually wrapped candies and prize tickets for various sized chocolate bunnies—over 100 were up for grabs—and cash prizes of up to $10.
Grieve remarked that many of the families that attended and assisted in putting the event together lived in Yorktown.
“That’s really the great thing about this,” Grieve said. “It’s a community event.”
Though the event has grown, it has stayed true to its origin as a family-run day. The organizers’ children drew pictures for the patients at St. Jude during the second egg hunt back in 2008 and now they and their friends assist their parents in filling the eggs, laying them out and making sure the day goes smoothly.
“It’s great just to make them appreciate and realize how lucky they are, and what a blessing it is to be healthy,” Denet said.