Love For Jake

The greatest blessing about running a children’s foundation is having the opportunity to meet the most beautiful and brave little souls. Jake Matthew Staniszewski was an incredible little boy that I was lucky to have spent time with. Two year old Jake battled alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive pediatric cancer. From the moment I met Jake I fell in love with his sprit and bravery. Jake had the most vibrant personality, heart-warming smile, and the most beautiful blue eyes. In the face of sickness Jake never ceased to amaze me with his strength, laughter, and love that he shared.906844_613660188717733_3805752278626628742_o

Jake changed my life. He taught me how to love in an extraordinary way. He allowed me to see life in a new perspective. Jake and his family taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and to appreciate every moment we have with those we care about.

While Jake did not get his miracle, I believe knowing him was a miracle in and of itself.

 

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When Jake passed away I promised myself I would forever do good everyday in his honor. Jake’s story would never be forgotten. I would find a way to continue spreading all the love Jake and his family shared. In an effort to share Jake’s love and bring comfort to children battling chronic illnesses I started Jake’s Jammies. Jake’s Jammies involves collecting new pajamas, pressing them with a special logo and tagging them with a special card that shows a picture of Jake and shares some words about him.

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The Ashley Wade Foundation distributes these pajamas to many local hospitals in Jake’s honor. I am proud to share that in a few short months numerous schools, families, and organizations have rallied their communities to hold pajamas drives. The success has been overwhelming. This week we reached 1,000 pairs of pajamas and many more donations continue to arrive each day.

My heart is full of gratitude and happiness. I thank you all for supporting Jake, his family, and The Ashley Wade Foundation. Thank you for helping spread Jake’s love and his story. Jake touched so many lives and continues to do so everyday. Mark, Denise, and Luke thank you for sharing Jake with us. We all love you so much.

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http://www.ashleywadefoundation.org

facebook.com/theashleywadefoundation.org

facebook.com/LoveForJake

For Me Christmas Came Early..

Last Sunday we held our annual Winter Wonderland party for all of our Superstar Families. Superstar families are families with children battling a chronic illness between the ages of one-twenty one. These special days are completely free to the families. It is our hope that family funs provide a safe, loving environment where parents can meet other parents who walk similar paths and can connect and support each other. The children are able to walk in the room and not feel so alone. The other children around them are battling the same illness or other illnesses that they can relate too.

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The holiday party was our biggest party to date and it was a BLAST! We had everything from Santa, to cookie decorating, to arts and crafts, to customized water bottles. There was so much love involved in setting this family fun day up that was completely sponsored by generous local businesses and families.

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One of my favorite moments at our family fun days is watching our Superstars and their Star Siblings make friends with other kids who are “just like them.” For me and for many of our Superstar kids they struggle with their illnesses and often feel that it is a “bad” part of them. Everyone at the AWF strives to make sure our Superstars know how special they are and that we are here to celebrate their differences.

For me there was no greater gift than seeing all our Superstars laughing, smiling, and most importantly feeling so comfortable being exactly who they are.

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I cannot thank everyone enough for following our AWF journey on facebook and supporting us throughout the year. Whether it be donating a toy, making a monetary donation, volunteering your time or even just sharing our posts you are helping to make a difference in the lives of many sick children. Thank you for helping us bring so much happiness, comfort, hope, and love to the bravest of the lives.

 

Special thanks to our holiday sponsors : Holiday Inn Plainview, Homes By Mara, Camps R US, Cakes By Kim, Enchanting Events of NY, Lifevac, Cullen and Dykman, Everyday photography and Treats, Zonas, Danielle Santaniello, Suite Pieces, Miss New York Jamie, Sun Buick GMC of Nassau, The Drapery Lady Studio, DJ Kid, Phyllis, Party Couture, and Fran.

 

Lastly, thank you to my team members and volunteers who work endlessly day in and day out bringing happiness to all our Superstars.

Know Your Why

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This week was a rough one as we lost our little Princess, Isabella. I absolutely loved Bella. Bella was so beautiful. I loved holding her, her head fit perfectly right on my chest. I would hold her hand and talk to her. Bella would smile back at me. She was perfect. I remember the first day I met Bella and her parents. They welcomed me in and I stayed for over an hour talking and playing with Bella. I fell in love with her. How could you not? Bella’s parents were so incredible I had felt like I had known them forever. Over the next couple months I became closer with Bella and her parents Peggy and Chris. Peggy and Chris have truly showed me the meaning of unconditional love. They were so loving, understanding, accepting, thoughtful, and full of fight for their little girl. In a world that is often so imperfect they showed me perfection. They represented fierce hope and love. I am a better person because of them. I can only hope that one day I can be half the parent that Peggy and Chris are.

Lately, people have been questioning and asking why I get so close to these children knowing they may only have a little more time here on earth. I laugh. I laugh because they have obviously never met these beautiful and brave souls. They have never snuggled Bella, or looked into Jake’s beautiful blue eyes. These people have never watched my Superstar kids laugh and smile. They have never held their hands and hugged them tight. They have never visited them in the hospital or laid on the floor and played ninja turtles with them. They have never had the honor of meeting these Superstars. These miracles.

Loving these brave and beautiful children are worth every fear I have of losing them, they are worth every tear I will cry and every moment of hurt. I am not going to hold back because I am scared to lose them. I will love them all unconditionally with all that I am. I will enjoy every second with them and forever cherish those moments because they are worth it all. I am lucky and blessed to have had the time I did with Bella and Jake. After Jake I promised I would live each day to the fullest for him and all the other children who have gone to heaven too soon. I told myself I would do this by continuing to bring happiness to more children in Jake’s name, as I will Bella’s. Everyday, I will strive to do better and bring smiles to more children.

For those people asking how I can do this take a moment to not shy away from a child battling an illness but to let them in. Love them with all that you have. You will see that the time you spend with them and the love you share will be the greatest gift. Those moments spent together will change your live forever and make you a better person. The miracle is getting to spend one moment with them.

Fighting For First

This has been an incredibly long week. We were recently selected as a finalist for the Ryan Sheckler “Be The Change Award.” This award is given in the form of a 10,000 grant to the winner. I sit down everyday and just imagine all the children and families I could help with that amount of money. I can make sure I go to every hospital on Long Island and hold pizza parties for the kids. That would allow us to start our program in loving memory of our Superstar Jake who passed away earlier this month. Jake was an amazing little boy, I fell in love with his spirit and bravery. I promised myself I would do something in his honor. I will do everything and anything to make it happen because Jake deserved the world just like every other kid battling an illness. These children fight so hard every day just to be normal, and sometimes just to be alive. The least I can do is try to bring a smile to their face, and help them for a brief moment forget about their illnesses. We just got these super cool t-shirt for our Superstars that we will be giving out at our family fun day on August 26th. They say “I am an AWF Superstar and I am stronger than my diagnosis.” I can’t wait to give them to the kids and watch them smile as they put it on. I know something as simple as a t-shirt will bring a smile and empower them to continue to be brave. These shirts will most importantly make them feel special. I can’t explain the feeling of delivering a care package, a gift, or even just visiting a Superstar Child and their family. It is the greatest feeling in the entire world when their face lights up despite the overwhelming obstacles they are facing for that moment they are happy. For that moment they are all smiles. Although I cannot explain to you what its like just close your eyes and picture for a moment. Walking into a house, hospital room, a treatment center, where a child is fighting so very hard and you come in with a huge basket of toys. The next moment that child is laughing, and smiling, they may of just sat up for the first time in a week. You bring pizza and the child has agreed to eat for the first time in days. These are the moments that continue to motivate us. That push up to keep fighting for our foundation for these children. Sometimes, you help the parents more than anyone. I can’t imagine how hard it is for a parent to watch their child endure so much but I do watch the sense of relief and happiness that overcomes them when we come visit their child.

I can’t imagine for a moment having to turn away a family or a child from being in our Superstar program. But there are days where my team and I are struggling to find ways to fundraise and collect toys. I am proud to say that I have the greatest team and I am lucky to work along side them. I have been blessed to find people who want this just as much as I do and who care so very much about these children and their families. I have seen the amazing generosity and kindness of complete strangers stepping forward to help whether its making a basket, donating a toy, a baked good, or simply helping to spread the word about our foundation. I have watched children get involved and want to help other children by holding lemonade stands, veggie stands, or donating their own toys. It is inspiring.

This grant would allow us to bring smiles to the bravest of lives. It would mean everything to me, my team, and all of my Superstar families if you could rally your friends, and co-workers to keep voting for us so we can continue to bring joy to the children who deserve it most.

VOTE HERE: http://www.shecklerfoundation.org/take-action/be-the-change/ashely-wade-foundation

Thank you for your continued support1017482_715789331827752_1847503935811324852_n

Massapequa Park Festival

This weekend we had the opportunity to attend the Massapequa Park Festival thanks to Ambrose of Maggie’s on Park along with Marilynne Mazzella Rich. From 11am- 6pm on Saturday and Sunday we got to meet some of our amazing supporters not only from Massapequa but also from the surrounding areas. The mayor of Massapequa Park even stopped by to support us! We gave out lollipops to all the children passing by our tent. During the fair we also sold ice tea and water bottles to help raise money to enable us to send more care packages. We were so excited that some of our Superstar kids stopped by to say Hi and support us.

Special thank you to Melissa Cifka Weinstein, her husband Neal, and her children Cole and Paige for helping out all day Saturday!!! We couldn’t have done it without you. 10494628_707936635946355_1269804147416041487_n1512630_707936682613017_4007730764712054840_n10252057_707936559279696_1872801285958287876_n13556_707936529279699_6019427466231345634_n10553538_707936592613026_4274382745383194748_n

Update

A lot has been going on at The Ashley Wade Foundation. Last week we officially became a 501c3 non profit organization. We are super excited and cannot wait to help so many more children! We are currently getting ready for our second family fun day which will be in August for our Superstar families. Family fun days are one of our favorite things as we get to meet so many Superstar families for the first time!

Yesterday, Ashley went to New York City to the Ronald McDonald House to visit our Superstar Chloe. Chloe is staying at the Ronald McDonald house for two weeks while she recovers from surgery! Ashley brought Chloe and her sister gift bags filled with a bunch of toys to make their stay a little better!

The latest project at The Ashley Wade Foundation is the start of our new program! This program will be released during our fundraiser in October and is in honor of a very special little boy. We know you guys are going to love our new program and we cannot wait for October to tell you guys all about it 🙂 10547546_700842433322442_4869928190868011157_n10547542_700842443322441_4878836906437046091_n

Easter Baskets

This week has been hopping right by as we delivered 30 Easter baskets to our Superstar children! We are currently preparing for our Easter party tomorrow in Winthrop Hospital. I can’t wait to get to the hospital tomorrow and see the children’s faces when we hand out the goodie bags, and crafts! Of course we can’t forget the pizza or juice boxes. There is nothing better than getting a little break from the hospital food. We hope you all have a good Easter! 

 

Below is our Superstars Jack and Sabrina with their Easter baskets 🙂 

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Happy New Year!

2013 was a great year for The Ashley Wade Foundation. In September we held our 2nd annual fundraiser which raised over 4000 dollars! In November we began holding hospital parties in Winthrop Hospital once a month. In 2013 we also started our Superstar Program which proved to be a huge success. We have already welcomed 9 children and their families into our Superstar program! Thank you for all of your continued support and love! We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!!

*Our new website will be released soon! 

*Below is a collage of our 2013 Superstar Kids. Missing is Camryn and Owen. Image 

Multitasking at its finest

Hi guys, somewhere between baking Christmas cookies and wrapping care packages I decided to create a blog. There is always something new happening at the foundation and we wouldn’t want you guys to miss it! I figured this is the best way to keep everyone updated. There are so many special children that we get to meet and I want to make sure I tell you guys all about them! We also get to meet new friends when we hold parties at Winthrop hospital each month. I will be sure to tell you about those parties and even post some pictures! I will also introduce you to some of the amazing people I get to work with and my awesome volunteers. I am new to blogging so bare with me!