The Boys and Girls Club of Bristol Family Center Cambridge Park Clubhouse hosted the 21st annual Holiday Party, and this year, there was a special guest of honor.
Bristol resident, Janay Brooks, said she was always at the Cambridge Park Clubhouse while she was growing up, and now that she has a daughter of her own, said it’s nice for her daughter to have a similar experience. Brooks’ daughter, Rylee, 4, was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor when she was 2 years old. Brooks said that because of her illness, Rylee hadn’t been able to really celebrate Christmas, and this party was her first real Christmas.
Brooks described the efforts made by Cambridge Park, the Boys and Girls Club, Cernac OneLife, and the United Way as a “blessing, to know that people are there in a time like this,” and that it “feels good to know she’s not alone.”
Rylee’s tumor was removed in October, and she and her mother will journey to Boston after the holiday, where she will undergo additional chemotherapy treatment.
Cambridge Park Clubhouse director Jay Maia said this event is the Club’s way to “spread the love, unity, compassion, and friendships to the surrounding community through the joy of giving.”
Scott Rosado, son of Michalene “Mikki” Rosado, said he was there to carry on his mother’s legacy, as she had once been the president of the tenants’ council at Cambridge, and used to organize the holiday party.
“I grew up down here, my mom held parties like this years ago when we were younger and it’s just always good to give back,” said Rosado. “This is her legacy, she did what she had to do and I’m just trying to follow in her footsteps.”
Cernac OneLife, a nonprofit organization that works to educate the world about cancer, sponsored another special guest at the party – Santa Claus.
“We really wanted to make an impact here — obviously not just for Rylee, but for all the kids, but primarily because she’s been going through so much, she’s been going through it since she was two,” said Heidi Swain, with Cernac OneLife.
All of the kids who attended the Cambridge Park holiday party received a gift, donated by The United Way Toys for Tots Program, Bob Fiondella, and Tameka Brooks and her friends, who donated in memory of Jeannette Dominguez-Porrini.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.