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Friday, December 2, 2011

Fairfield Ludlowe “Block Party” Aids CancerCare

Fairfield Ludlowe “Block Party” 
Aids CancerCare
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – Fairfield Ludlowe High School became a LEGO emporium Saturday as host site of CancerCare’s family-oriented “Blocks of Love” fundraiser.

The third annual event offered LEGO sets for sale, play areas, a creation gallery, video games, cooking demos and an interactive dance screen. It drew thousands of area families who came to have a little fun while supporting CancerCare’s noble mission.

“Last year we raised $150,000 from the event and related sponsorships and pledges,” said Sandy Tripodi, regional director of the Connecticut office of CancerCare, “and over 3,000 people attended. We expect more today due to greater publicity.”

CancerCare is a national non-profit organization established to provide free support services to anyone impacted by a diagnosis of cancer – people with cancer, families of patients, children that have a parent with cancer. The group also does targeted outreach to the Latino population.

Support includes face-to-face, telephone and online counseling, educational programs in the community and workshops. Perhaps CancerCare is best known for its financial assistance program however.

“Last year, in Connecticut, we provided almost $250,000 in direct financial support,” said Tripodi, “for expenses like transportation, child care, home care, pain/comfort medications and medical supplies and equipment.”

With regard to the LEGO event concept, Tripodi said it rose out of the Fairfield community among parents and kids. “They decided to take a love of LEGO and turn it into something impactful,” she explained, adding that it was Cindy Citrone, on CancerCare’s board of managers, who founded the event and was a key player. The result is a comprehensive set-up with multiple areas of entertainment.

For instance, in the Builders Gallery, on display were over 320 LEGO creations built at home by families and brought to the school to display. Photos were taken of each builder and their creation and provided as keepsakes.

In another area, kids could pose for a photo with a costumed LEGO mini-figure character.

In the school’s cafeteria, families, like Jacques Depardieu of Easton and his children Jean-Luc, 7, and Catalina, 5, collaborated at lunch tables on making more creations from scratch. “Both my children love playing LEGOs,” he said. “Next year, we would like to be exhibitors. It’s really nice to see how something like this creates positive energy to raise money and awareness of cancer for families that are in need.”

The cafeteria also housed a mini LEGO layout of Fairfield as imagined and created by students at Fairfield County Day School, as well as a block of buildings constructed by 13-year-old Fairfield Woods Middle School student Jacob Rodier. The lad was a national LEGO building contest winner and has been designated a Master Builder.

“I’ve been building for 10 years,” he said. “I need to move all the time and when I’m building, it keeps my hands moving. I’m also really into architecture,” Rodier said.

Despite best efforts and all the energy and fundraising for the cause, cancer is still a formidable foe. “There was a 10-year-old boy participating last year who built a creation with his dad, who had been given a tough prognosis,” said Tripodi. “He knew that if he lost his dad, he would still have the LEGO creation that they built together. Sadly, the dad has since passed.”

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