PLUMSTED – There was plenty of fun at a recent family FUNraiser held at the New Egypt Elks Lodge. It marked the first full event of the Jake’s Got This Foundation and it featured a pig roast with a bunch of activities, food, raffles and music.
Foundation leader Shannon Kulesa of Jackson couldn’t have been happier about how the event went as it drew twice as many attendees as predicted.
She said the fundraiser was fully sponsored by local businesses and all the funds raised that day went to three children with cerebral palsy. This will provide those children the opportunity to attend a week-long intensive therapy program in upstate New York. “This isn’t covered by insurance and it’s called the “Key to CP” center.”
“They were life changing for Jake and we wanted to share this opportunity with as many kids as possible,” Kulesa said. Her 9-year-old son Jake was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 13 months old. The family created a nonprofit organization to benefit Jake and others with the same condition last year following his trial run with a hyperbaric chamber.
“We were hoping to get 100 and we have a little under 200 today. We got almost double. We had an area for arts and crafts, we had 25 gift baskets donated,” she added.
Kulesa noted all of it was sponsored by various businesses, most in the local area. They include Blue Ribbon Pools and Supplies of Linden, Seashore Pediatric Therapy Center, Manahawkin, Lakehurst Diner & Restaurant, Garden State Fire & Safety Service, York Baseball, Brog Medical Supplies, Amazing Athletes, Jackson Diner, Four Boys Ice Cream, Bostock Tools, and NextHome Force Premier Realty, Howell,
Kulesa said, “the Jackson Rifle & Pistol club was one of our biggest sponsors for the event. We had each part of the event sponsored by local businesses so that all money raised could go directly to sending the three kids to the intensive program and help them get the medical equipment recommended when they complete the week there.
“We were able to raise a little over half of the money needed to send all three kids and cover their equipment needed,” she added.
She also thanked the New Egypt Elks Lodge who hosted the event on their property and offered the use of their various facilities. “We didn’t have any overhead.”
“The Elks were gracious enough to give us 10 volunteers to handle the food. We had a couple who stayed here last night with the (roasting) pig to cook it overnight. My main core of volunteers is five of us and all of their husbands are here today helping,” Kulesa said.
She added that “we had probably another 15 volunteers and we had six Antlers which are the junior unit of the Elks. We probably had close to 40 volunteers and we had Amazing Athletes of Howell who were playing football with the kids and other games. They were great; we had four of their employees were here today.”
The fundraiser that was billed as a “Pig Roast and Family FUNdraiser” began to be organized last autumn according to Kulesa. She began to get anxious about the event as it drew close, but the Elks put her mind at ease.
“When they brought me in to look it over it was amazing. They just said ‘this is for kids, okay what do you need us to do? They already grabbed me and said, ‘next year we want it here and you are on our schedule now’ and all I could say is thank you.” Kulesa said.
One New Egypt Elks Lodge member ran up to Kulesa to mention “everything went great. I heard from a lot of those here how everything was so well run. They couldn’t believe it was your first one.”
Music was also part of the event along with a variety of food, games, crafts, a balloon bounce attraction and attendees took a turn ringing the bell with a large heavy mallet.
“It was a learning process planning this and I am so grateful to so many people. We also had spectacular weather. I was watching the weather reports all week long,” she noted.
Kulesa said “our next event will be July 16 at the Shore Town Stadium in Lakewood. That will be a police vs fire softball game the winner will play Jake’s friends. We just announced that this week and are working on details, tickets will be on sale soon. For information about the Foundation visit jakesgotthis.org. You can also check out the organization’s Facebook page at Jake’s got this and Jake’s Got This Foundation.