NJ teen using birthday, again, to raise funds for charity close to her heart
HOLMDEL — Maggi Brown has had the same birthday wish for three years running — raise money for the charity that supported her and her family during their darkest days.
The Toms River teen and her friends and family are inviting the public to take over the Vonage campus this weekend, a few weeks ahead of her 18th birthday, with the goal of collecting at least $10,000 for The Frances Foundation. The Holmdel-based charity has been delivering smiles to kids with cancer, and their families, since 2004.
A pie-eating contest, Zumba and an inflatable water slide highlight just a few of the activities planned for the third annual "Maggipalooza," running 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. A $25 entry fee also comes with food, dessert, a t-shirt and wristband. Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in a 5K memorial walk.
Nine years ago, Brown's sister Caiti lost her battle with bone cancer at age 18.
The Frances Foundation was a rock for the family during her final days, and remained a friend and support system after her passing. During Caiti's fight, she and her family were treated to VIP treatment at a Lakewood Blueclaws game, where Caiti threw the ceremonial first pitch. The Frances Foundation also provided funding for uninsured medical treatment.
"The Frances Foundation is very grateful for the support from Maggi and her family. It will go directly to children currently fighting cancer," said foundation president Bob Heugle.
Through December 2016, the foundation had gifted more than $1.7 million worth of assistance and smiles — from helping with medical bills to planning all-expenses-paid Disney trips — to kids with cancer and their families.
As a thank you to the charity, Brown established a goal in 2015 to raise $16,000 by the time of her 16th birthday. A strong campaign resulted in a $40,000 haul — more than double the original goal. Two giant checks were handed to Heugle at the inaugural Maggipalooza.
Last year's event collected $5,000 for the foundation, and Brown hopes to double that number by the time the 2017 event comes to a close.
"We're looking at a really good turnout so far, so I think we're going to reach it," Brown said. "We love helping out the Frances Foundation."
EVENT INFO: Maggipalooza, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday, 8/20. Vonage, 23 Main St., Holmdel. $25 per person, no fee for kids under 5.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.