Annual Fundraiser A Success

Photo courtesy Emiliana’s Hope

BERKELEY – It was a perfectly planned event, even if weather didn’t fully cooperate.

The 3rd Annual Family Fun Day was held in Veterans Park. It offered rides, crafts, games, music, and more. These were all things Emiliana Rose O’Brien loved. It would have been a perfect day for her. Sadly, she passed away in 2015 at just 13 years old.

“We would love to call it Emiliana’s Day, because this event embodies everything she loved – maybe one day we can give her that honor,” her mother Janet O’Brien said.

“Em loved crafts. She taught herself how to crochet – she crocheted (her brother) Connor’s baby blanket in a week. Only two weeks before her diagnosis. She loved to draw, do her hair and make-up, and learned it by watching YouTube. She loved going to food truck festivals, especially if they had bacon. Bouncy houses, Italian ice, hamster balls, everything a healthy child would enjoy,” she said.

Emiliana O’Brien holds her newborn brother, Connor, while fighting cancer. (Photo courtesy O’Brien Family)

Emiliana never gave up hope throughout the course of her illness. Therefore, her parents started Emiliana’s Hope in her memory to bring awareness to childhood cancer and funding for research.

The Family Fun Day raised about $1,200. The group donates the money to childhood cancer research being performed by Emiliana’s doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

 

“Emiliana will always be 13 years old. And so to honor our daughter and the short childhood she lived, we created Emiliana’s Hope, so that children with cancer can enjoy family time and even for a few minutes, forget that they are different than their brothers, sisters, friends,” O’Brien said.

The event had been postponed due to inclement weather. And even on the day it was rescheduled for, there were heavy clouds that eventually turned to rain around 2 p.m.

Originally, it was scheduled for May 19. This is during the school year, and more families are around. Having an event like this in the summer means that families would be on vacation. Also, it’s harder to tell families about it without being able to do so through the school. So, attendance was lower this time around, O’Brien said. Some volunteers were also away on vacation.

The price was reduced from $15 to $5 to make it more affordable for families. Adults could pay an extra charge for access to the beer garden.

Photo courtesy Emiliana’s Hope

Upcoming Fundraisers

Emiliana’s Hope will be hosting a few more events this year.

Some of the events that were postponed due to weather will be held in cooperation with Berkeley schools in September.

The 3rd Annual Golf Outing will be held on Sept. 14. The shotgun start will be at 8:30 a.m. at Cedar Creek Golf Course. It will be followed by a silent auction and luncheon at Water’s Edge.

A night with Jersey Shore Medium Linda Shields will be held on Nov. 17 at the Bayville Elks Lodge. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show is at 7 p.m.

In 2019, Emiliana’s Hope will be hosting Sibling Days for families dealing with childhood cancer.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Visit EmilianasHope.com for more information.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.