The National GRACE Foundation eighth annual beach party raised $23,000 this year in support of helping children with cancer go to college. Held on July 20 at the Narragansett Beach North Beach Clubhouse, the party serves as a fundraiser as well as a celebration of young cancer survivors.
The foundation this year awarded $20,000 in scholarships to one cancer survivor who graduated from East Greenwich High School, Gema Santizo, and one from Chariho High School, Alex Wilson. The foundation has awarded $100,000 in scholarships to cancer survivors since starting the Isabel Helen Farnum Scholarship in 2013. Since 2011, the foundation has worked with over 1,000 young people affected by cancer from all over the country.
The foundation, formed in 2011, was established to offer college admissions and financial aid counseling to pediatric cancer patients and survivors.
The foundation was formed after Anthony Gallonio and his wife, Michelle La Riviere, of East Greenwich learned that their 1-year-old daughter, Grace, had been diagnosed with pediatric cancer. That experience, along with his career in college admissions departments gave Gallonio the idea for the foundation’s mission.
“The beach party provides us an opportunity to celebrate Grace’s battle with cancer. She was diagnosed at the age of one in 2010 and is now a healthy, happy and cancer-free 9-year-old,” says Gallonio, of East Greenwich.
Last year the foundation began a new project, a one-day College and Cancer Conference held at hospitals around the country, including Boston, Providence, New York and Las Vegas. These conferences have brought families affected by pediatric cancer together on college admissions, financial aid, disability services and cancer for young adults.
The foundation is supported by Beltone New England Beltone Carolina/Virginia, enabling it to secure additional funds to award a second recipient and expand its services to new states, including Virginia and North Carolina, Gallonio said.
The GRACE Foundation’s next event is the RIde/Run Against Cancer, scheduled for Sept. 22, to raise funds for Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Tomorrow Fund for children with cancer, the GRACE Foundation and the Isabel Helen Farnum Scholarship. The run and bike ride steps off from Bistro at Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, in Wakefield. To register for that event, or for more information on the foundation and its projects, visit gracefoundation.org.