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Friday, August 29, 2014

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Charity aids chronically ill kids

Tags: Health
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Neil Maresky with his son, Aaron, who started the charity Aaron’s Apple.

TORONTO — Children’s charity Aaron’s Apple will host its second annual Spin-o-thon fundraiser on Oct. 21, raising money for children who need medication not covered by OHIP.

What started as a small fundraiser at Walmart has turned into a charity that’s making an impact on the lives of its recipients. Since its inception just two years ago, the charity has raised a total of almost $200,000.

Still a few days away from the event, the organization is set to surpass its initial goal of raising $20,000 to help children with chronic diseases who do not have the funds to cover their treatment.

It all started when Aaron Maresky was seven years old. He had severe stomach pains and was taken to the hospital. After three months in the hospital with a diagnosis of severe Crohn’s disease, the medical team found a medicine that worked. Unfortunately, Aaron needed an infusion every six to eight weeks, and OHIP does not cover it.

In total, his medicine costs the family $40,000 every year. Thankfully for them, his family has insurance that covers this. However, Aaron and his family realized that not all families have such extensive coverage. Therefore, together, they started a charity to raise money for chronically ill children in need of financial assistance.

“A big reason why he has been doing it is he wants to turn a negative situation into a positive one,” said Mandy Maresky, Aaron’s mother. “It was really Aaron who started it.”

Often, when Aaron would go to the hospital to receive an infusion, he would use his allowance to donate money and gifts to families in need. Eventually, he came to the decision that he wanted to start his own charity.

Aaron is now 11, and has been truly amazing in spreading the word and building the charity, Maresky said.

“He gives us ideas, canvasses, gets the word out,” she said, adding that he constantly tells his friends about it, and they pass it along to their families. “It’s amazing how many people have found out about Aaron’s Apple just because of him.”

He originally came up with the idea for a Spin-o-thon, which raised $16,000 in its first year. The two-hour event, which will take place in Thornhill, Ont., features a spin class, prizes, refreshments and more.

This year, in addition to preparing for the fundraiser by collecting donations and wrapping gifts and prizes, he’ll be at the event and will give a speech to the participants.

The charity often helps families directly, but they recently formed a partnership with the Hospital For Sick Children. Through the partnership, the hospital can take the money right out of the fund and give it directly to people who need it.

It’s another way to make a difference in the community and in other children’s lives, Maresky said.

“He’s a very happy go lucky kid who just wants to give back and help,” she added. “He always says, ‘I have to be grateful because not everybody is as lucky as I am.’”

For more information about Aaron’s Apple and the Spin-o-thon, visit www.aaronsapple.com.

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