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Queens Chronicle

Friends of Karen helps sick children

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Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 10:30 am

“A Rose Inn Bloom” a fundraiser that will increase awareness for people who are going through sickle-cell anemia, leukemia and cancer, is being held today, Aug. 2, with the proceeds going to Friends of Karen, an organization that helps families cope with the problems of a child who is fighting a life-threatening disease.

The group was founded in 1978 and is named after Karen MacInnes, a 16-year-old who died from a rare genetic disorder. Her family was helped by contributions and wanted the outpouring to help others.

The organization also provides financial support and counseling for the siblings, as well as academic support for the patients.

One patient is Carly Nieves, who is a sophomore at Christ the King High School in Middle Village. In 2003, at the age of 7, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, indicating her white blood cells were attacked by cancer.

She went through treatment for two and a half years. In 2008, she relapsed, and Friends of Karen helped her get through the treatment, assisted with the medical bills, and created a support system for Carly’s sister, Juliana, who is now 6. It also helped Carly’s mom, Lisa Horner, gain some peace of mind so that she could focus on her daughter’s illness.

“Friends of Karen is near and dear to us. They were there for me twice and picked up right where they left off,” Horner said. “I just wanted Carly to get through her next treatment.”

When she relapsed, Carly missed a lot of school because she was in the hospital for months. “It didn’t really hit me all at once,” she said. “In the hospital I was fine, I had a positive attitude. Then everything weighed down on me.”

When she went into remission, Friends of Karen continued to help Carly by providing school supplies. But she is not just a survivor, she is the face of the campaign that is going to be placed on more than 75 New York Blood Center vans. Happy about the honor, Carly added: “It’s kind of funny. It’s not an everyday thing.”

Still in remission, she continues to do her part by increasing awareness of victims of leukemia and other cancers, so that people will donate blood to help the cause.

That’s what “A Rose Inn Bloom” is all about. It’s not just a gathering with dancing, food, and raising money for a good cause. It’s an event about helping others.

Tony Nunziato, who owns Enchanted Florist in Maspeth, is a contributor to the event, which is honoring Friends of Karen and Nieves. He’s not only making baskets and decorations for the fundraiser, but has also been spreading the word about the organization.

Nunziato knows Carly and her family. “It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “Everybody should get involved. There is nothing worse than a child that is not well.”

“A Rose Inn Bloom” will be held tonight from 7-11:30 p.m. at The Inn at New Hyde Park, 214 Jericho Turnpike.

Donations can also be made by calling (914) 617-4024 or by going to the website friendsofkaren.org.

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