In late 2016, local superheroes came together to honor and support Stella Freedman, a perpetually smiling infant, recognizing her battle against a rare form of pediatric cancer. Together, family members, friends, neighbors and generous strangers raised over $80,000 to benefit the Cancer Center for Kids (CCFK) at NYU Winthrop-Hospital.
Parents Scott & Becky Freedman with their daughter Stella; Mark Weinblatt, M.D, Chief of NYU Winthrop’s Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Director of the Cancer Center for Kids.
When Stella was first diagnosed at only three months old, her grandmother, a local pediatrician, guided Stella’s parents Becky and Scott Freedman, to the Cancer Center for Kids. Although the Freedmans were initially reluctant about "coming out" as "cancer parents," they were so touched by the kind and compassionate care delivered by the CCFK staff, that they were inspired to host a fundraiser to support the Center. The Freedmans teamed up with The Summer Hope Foundation - whose mission is to provide hope in the fight against cancer - to create the Stella's Superheroes fundraiser.
Sharing her post-event thoughts, Mrs. Freedman said, "My family was surrounded by loved ones and strangers all showing support for our baby Stella. It was the first party or event we had been to since Stella was diagnosed. And while the day was a success, it was still bittersweet."
Mark Weinblatt, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Director of the CCFK, gratefully acknowledged the Freedman family's gift and generosity of spirit. "To witness the dedication of a family so committed to giving back to the people caring for their child, and in turn helping the Center treat other sick children, is an inspiration to all of us."
Stella, now 15 months, was all smiles during the check presentation to Dr. Weinblatt and the CCFK. The donation will help support the Center's initiative while additionally naming Dr. Weinblatt's office with a plaque "In Honor of Dr. Mark Weinblatt with gratitude and appreciation, Stella Superhero Freedman."
Beyond the impact of this fundraiser, Stella's group of 'superheroes' have also banded together to impact the Center's Child Life Program. Stella's cousin, Debra Jaffe, created the Stella Gives Back initiative to help bring cheer to young patients by providing hundreds of toys for birthdays, special milestones and playroom use. Friends and family also donated toys and gifts in honor of Stella's first year birthday, as well as the birthdays of her big sister, Rosie, and mom.