Brooklyn unites around Sweet Sally Sunshine

October 9, 2013 Heather Chin
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It may have been mid-afternoon instead of midnight, but the little owl still held court over the hundreds of people from Bay Ridge and beyond who had gathered to support her at a party at The Wicked Monk on Saturday, October 5, after the end of the Ragamuffin Parade.

The little owl was one-year-old Sally Noel Kabel, and her supporters—still dressed as princesses, ladybugs, unicorns, superheroes, dinosaurs, and average moms and dads—were there for the Sweet Sally Sunshine Fundraiser, organized by Bay Ridge Cares to raise spirits while raising money to help the Kabel family take care of Sally’s medical and other leukemia-related expenses.

Sally was diagnosed with leukemia this past July at just 10 months old. She continues to receive chemotherapy in the hopes that it will keep the cancer at bay and prevent the need for a bone marrow transplant, and also receives physical, occupational and feeding therapy.

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“Our goal as an organization is to be about neighbors helping neighbors,” explained Teri Brennan, a board member with Bay Ridge Cares. “This started with a post in the Bay Ridge Parents group on Facebook, and board members and neighbors wanted to help. As word got out, it took a life of its own with everyone wanting to help and volunteer. I don’t know if any other neighborhood could have done this; it’s very much what Bay Ridge is about.”

Close to 500 people—adults and children—attended the event, joining numerous local businesses and sponsors in donating money to the cause. Bagpipers welcomed event-goers, who snacked on mac and cheese while bidding on auction items, getting their faces painted, and playing games in the parking lot. Thanks to their efforts, the nonprofit will be able “to provide the family with some significant financial support.”

“Overwhelming” was the word that kept coming out of Nicole and Matt Kabel’s mouths as they greeted friends and neighbors while carrying Sally, dressed in an owl costume.

“I do know a lot of people, some moms from school and daycare, and some families who moved away but who came back today for this,” said Nicole. “The Bay Ridge Cares community is amazing. And it’s nice for us to be here with them and [our children].”

Matt agreed, noting that “Ragamuffin is one of the few [neighborhood events] that’s actually for kids, so to have it lead to this [fundraiser] is perfect. We wanted something kids-based that our sons could attend.”

Wendy Arnold, who came to the event with her five-year-old son Desmond, said that while she doesn’t know the Kabel family personally, she wanted to do something because after hearing about their fight from friends, “as a mom, it just makes me sad what they’re going through. I want to be here to offer support. She looks like such a beautiful little girl.”

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