MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Mount Pleasant mom Dana Gentile, like any parent struggling with the devastating news that their child is seriously ill, knows that modern medicine can only do so much.
It's the love and support that makes the difference on the rough, and often lonely, road to remission and recovery, she says.
Gentile, a teacher, and her husband, Carmine, a Harrison police officer, were floored last fall when they found out that their bubbly, dark-eyed daughter Gia had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer.
The third most common type of cancer in children, most of whom are under the age of five, it usually starts in the tissue of the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys.
But, not only have they picked themselves back up with the help of relatives, friends and strangers, the Gentiles are determined to pay it forward by helping other families with children like Gia.
Gia, now 6-1/2, is a first-grader at Hawthorne Elementary School. Always happy and smiling, she’s a girly-girl who likes to dress up, says her mom.
So it’s fitting -- on several levels -- that funds raised at the upcoming “Gia’s Glam Gala” will go to an organization called “Band of Parents.”
“Bound by Hope” is its motto, and hope is what it offers to parents like Gia’s.
The Gentiles, who have two younger children, first made contact with the group through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's pediatric program in New York City.
Sloan Kettering is the place to go because of its extensive research on Neuroblastoma.
The group, founded by a New Rochelle doctor whose own son was stricken by Neuroblastoma, has really been the family’s rock through their cancer journey, Dana Gentile said.
The money it collects for cancer awareness and research is plowed right back into Sloan Kettering, she said.
The nonprofit organization has, the Gentiles said, focused on funding Neuroblastoma treatments that are said to be less toxic than traditional chemotherapy.
It is credited with funding the development of a type of immunotherapy and other innovative treatments, such as vaccines.
In December, the Gentiles and a friend who owns a hardware store, put together Cookies for Kids Cancer event that raked in more than $10,000 for the cause.
“Gia’s Glam Gala” is set for 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Mount Pleasant Community Center, 125 Vozza Drive, Valhalla.
According to the Gentiles, the $10 admission price will get participants to get all glammed up.
There will be nail polishing and face makeup, as well as face painting, glitter tattoos, treats, a photo booth and a DJ.
For an extra $10, kids and adults can get hair extensions, or shave their heads for charity.
Gia’s dad has already denuded his dome.
The organization will also be selling T-shirts, bracelets, beanie hats and dog tags.
All donations are tax-exempt, the Gentiles said.
If folks would like to help, but can’t attend the gala, they can go to the group’s website, www.bandofparents.org , click on the “Donate” button, and then scroll down to “Specific Donation Funds” where they will find Gia Gentile’s site.