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Friends Of Karen Hosts Annual Gala In Stamford

Friends of Karen child Sofia with her brother Luca.
Friends of Karen child Sofia with her brother Luca. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Friends of Karen

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- A North Salem-based charity that eases daily life for local families caring for a child with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses will be hosting its annual spring gala next month in Stamford.

Friends of Karen's “Portraits of Strength, Hope, Courage and Love” will be taking place on May 29 at The Loading Dock at 375 Fairfield Avenue in Stamford.

New Canaan resident Trish Lobenfeld will be honored with the Sheila W. Petersen Award, named for the charity’s founder, and Tom Jocelyn, a Yorktown resident, will be honored with the Humanitarian Award. NBC Correspondent Kate Snow and CNN Anchor John Berman will be the Masters of Ceremonies.

Friends of Karen started in 1978 when Sheila Petersen galvanized the community to help her neighbors’ child, named Karen, who was battling a rare terminal illness.

Since then, Friends of Karen has assisted more than 13,500 children, providing vital, practical and comprehensive support at no cost to families in the Tri-State region who desperately need help to get through what are often years-long ordeals.

"We’ve made a commitment to help every family who needs us," Executive Director Judith Factor said. "The ‘portraits’ in the event’s title spotlights the remarkable children we help every day. Our honorees are incredibly generous in spreading the word about the lifeline Friends of Karen offers to families dealing with a situation that’s impossible to imagine."

Friends of Karen raises all of its funding through public contributions. "We depend on events like this," Factor said. "There are still many families who need to know about Friends of Karen. We help free them of everyday needs and concerns so they have more time for what’s most important: each other."

As an organization, Friends of Karen helps families get through the day-to-day realities of battling cancer with emotional, financial and advocacy support.

"We have many single parent households who often have to stop working to care for their child," Factor said. "Losing family income is difficult even when both parents are working. We can help with the rent. We will literally help put food on the table. We’ll advocate for them with their insurance company or their landlord or their utility provider – whatever will help their situation."

Factor said Friends of Karen also helps empower parents to ask the right questions and be better advocates for their children.

"Sometimes we’re that strong shoulder for them to lean on," Factor said. "We have an experienced staff who has been through this many, many times. Once you're a Friends of Karen family, you're always a Friends of Karen family."

For reservations or to make a tax-deductible donation, click here