Lots of food; fancy, yummy desserts; live entertainment; and a silent auction top the fun at an annual birthday celebration in Matthews this month to raise money for those battling childhood cancer.
Kalen's Sweet Miracles Third Annual Birthday Fundraiser will be open to the public from 12-7 p.m. on June 25 at the Providence Hills Community Clubhouse in Matthews, at Providence Hills and Savannah Hills roads.
Kalen's Sweet Miracles, a nonprofit organization, was established in memory of Kalen Frizzell by her parents, Kimberly and John Frizzell.
Kalen, a 14-year-old Matthews girl who died of cancer three years ago, loved to cook and perfected her baking skills when she had to stay home after treatment. She had hoped to attend Johnson & Wales University and become a chef.
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Many people look forward to the annual fundraiser, said Hope Summerhill, a neighbor and friend of the Frizzells.
"So many people from Matthews attend that it's almost like a family reunion," Summerhill said. "It's a great way to honor the memory of Kalen Frizzell, who battled her illness with such a positive and upbeat attitude, and to help others facing a similar battle."
Ashley Elliot, 16, one of Kalen's friends, said, "When you enter the room, it's like I'm with Kalen, and all the memories of Kalen come back to me. You kind of have that feeling that Kalen's there for you and you are there for her."
Kalen was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 10. After chemotherapy, a knee replacement and remission, the cancer metastasized in her lungs. She developed leukemia, which led to the need for a bone marrow transplant. After a successful transplant, an infection invaded her lungs, and she died from the infection a month before her 15th birthday.
Each year, Kalen's Sweet Miracles' birthday celebration is bittersweet, said Kimberly Frizzell. With help from friends and relatives, her family hosts the fundraiser to raise awareness of childhood cancer and give back to the community that supported Kalen.
"This year should have been her senior prom, her 18th birthday and she was supposed to graduate with the Butler High class of 2011," said Kimberly. "This is our celebration of all of the things that we won't get to share with Kalen this year."
Kalen's Sweet Miracles also raises funds to help support families coping with childhood cancer.
"The first year, we raised nearly $6,000. Last year, we raised $12,000," said Kimberly. "Our goal this year is to top $12,000."
Silent auction and raffle items are expected to include an iPad 2, summer camps, NFL-autographed footballs, spa certificates, salon packages, gourmet cakes and restaurant and other gift cards.
"The money that we raise from this year's fundraiser will go directly to those needs as they have in the past," Frizzell said. "We have given over $20,000 in direct assistance to aid families."
Recently recognized by the Levine Children's Hospital, the nonprofit gives funds directly to the hematology and oncology clinic staff at the hospital to distribute to families in need.
One family's child was in treatment when their refrigerator stopped working. With their finances depleted, they didn't have the money to replace it. A donation from Kalen's Sweet Miracles gave them the money to replace it, said Kimberly Frizzell.
The organization also holds an annual golf tournament, organized by a board member for Kalen's Sweet Miracles, Ray Garutto, who also is a Frizzell family friend. The Rutherford Golf Tournament for Kalen's Sweet Miracles is planned for early fall.
"The overwhelming love and positive energy radiating throughout the event makes me proud to be a part of this special occasion," said Gracie Brunson, Kimberly Frizzell's aunt. Brunson comes from Snellville, Ga., to attend the annual fundraiser. "To give and help others in memory of a special person is an awe-inspiring and gratifying feeling.
"You can bet I will attend every year."