Brendan’s Fund

Brendan’s Fund In January 1992, a group of women were invited into Lydia Borek’s Avalon home to listen to an idea, an idea born of love, loss and grief.

Less than two months prior, the Borek family lost Brendan after a courageous and heartbreaking sixteen-month battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare pediatric bone cancer. During that time, Brendan sought treatment in Pennsylvania, Texas and New York. He treasured the time he was able to spend at home in Avalon among the loving support of family and friends.

But for his mother Lydia, time at home away from the hospital and care of medical staff was filled with uncertainty and a sense of aloneness. It was difficult to convey her cares and concerns to others. Their lives had a sense of normalcy while hers was like riding a roller coaster.

Financial strain added to an already stressful situation. Lydia resigned from her job to care for Brendan. Where there were once two incomes there was now one. Expenses incurred during treatment--the cost of gas, tolls and parking along with overnight stays and meals away from home - mounted up over sixteen months.

The Borek’s experience highlighted the lack of support systems and resources for pediatric cancer patients and their families in the South Jersey area.

After Brendan’s death, the Borek family resolved to found an organization. The driving force was simple--no other family should feel the same isolation and financial strain as they did. And so, on that January evening in 1992, Lydia Borek’s idea for The Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund (Brendan’s Fund) was given life.

Brendan’s Fund is a grassroots organization with a neighbor-reaching-out-to-neighbor concept at its core. Its mission is simple: honor Brendan’s strength of character and love of life by providing emotional and financial assistance to Cape May County area pediatric patients and their families.

During the past fifteen years, Brendan’s Fund has provided emotional and financial support to Cape May County area families whose children have been diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Each of these children faces the challenges presented by pediatric cancer with a courage and spirit well beyond their young years. They face these challenges with the love of their families as well as the support of Brendan’s Fund. This support is made possible by your generous contributions and caring concern.

In most instances, a parent finds it necessary either to terminate work or reduce their hours in order to care for their ill child. Pediatric cancer treatment requires costly and time-consuming trips to Philadelphia, often on a daily basis for months at a time. Income is reduced as expenses mount.

They assist all of their families by providing services to reduce the financial stresses they encounter through: reimbursements for gas, tolls, parking, meals and lodging for illness related expenses; gift cards for supermarkets, phones, back to school shopping, holiday gifts and baskets; and utility and rent or mortgage payments are covered when necessary. Their social worker and a family support network address emotional needs and concerns. Yet each one of the children is special and unique. Cancer may strike them in infancy, as a toddler, during a carefree childhood, as a teenager or young adult. Brendan’s Fund strives to find ways to help them meet those challenges by assisting with their special needs and unique personalities above and beyond the general services they already provide.

Their first request, almost sixteen years ago, was for a pink bike with streamers for a terminally ill five year-old girl’s birthday. Years later they purchased a surrey for a teen aged leukemia patient who could no longer ride her bike. Her sister chauffeured her around their neighborhood in her surrey. Brendan’s Fund also provided her with scholarship money for college when she was in remission from her cancer. Numerous other young adults have also benefited from their scholarship programs.

Brendan’s Fund has paid for summer camps, swim club programs, and trips to Disney World. They have donated numerous laptop computers for our children to use during hospital stays and isolating home illnesses. This helps them keep up with schoolwork and communicate with their friends. Brendan’s Fund has had the privilege of sending some of their high school students to the prom, providing dresses, tuxes and limos to make the evening special. In addition they have helped families purchase a used car, paid for car repairs and car insurance. Brendan’s Fund paid the back taxes for one of their families and renegotiated their mortgage loan, which prevented them from losing their home. On a sadder note, Brendan’s Fund has paid for respite nursing care for terminally ill children. The pain endured with the loss of a child is immeasurable. Their final gift to some families has been payment of funeral expenses when they suffer the loss of a child.

All of their responses and services are provided in an effort to reduce the financial and emotional stresses a family experiences when confronted with the challenges presented by pediatric cancer.

On behalf of Lydia Borek, Jennifer Johnston and her colleagues from Brendan’s Fund wrote in a recent email, “Volunteers are always welcomed at our events (especially during our Saturday surf memorial event) however, we are most in need of donations to support all we do.”

Many fun and exciting events are held throughout the year to support Brendan’s Fund and all their efforts. For a current listing, click here.

To get involved or help out financially, please send an email or snail mail. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance in the Cape May County area, please contact them. Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 41
Avalon, NJ 08202
Phone: (609) 967-0100
fax: (609) 967-3480
email: bren@brendansfund.org

For additional information visit them online at www.brendansfund.org.

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Author: Margo Harvey

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