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A big day for Bray
Event draws crowd, raises money for young cancer patient
Tim Elwell swab
Tim Elwell uses a swab to see if he is a possible bone marrow match. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

The Effingham YMCA was filled with activities Saturday in an effort to raise money to help with medical bills for a 6-year-old cancer patient.

The YMCA was filled with bounce houses, face painting, a silent auction and a bone marrow drive, all designed to raise both funds and awareness of Brayden Alleman’s condition and needs. Organizers hoped that through the bone marrow drive, a match could be found for Alleman. The National Bone Marrow Registry conducted the drive.

The event also raised $10,000.

For Jennifer Bendetti, it was all a labor of love.

“Brayden and my little boy, Reese, are the same age and they’re good friends,” she said, “and I just love the family, and I know that they would do the same for anyone else that was in need.”

Although Alleman couldn’t be there for the event, he talked to everyone at the Y via phone.

“Thanks to everyone for coming to my event and thanks for trying to be my match,” he said.

Bendetti said that no specific fundraising goal was set, and that they wanted to raise awareness and get people to come out for the bone marrow drive.

“I guess the possibilities were just limitless to ease their minds with their medical costs,” she said.

Effingham YMCA Director Kim Dennis was pleased to be a part of the effort.

They needed a facility large enough to do all the things they wanted to do,” she said. “We’re just happy to be a part of it. We’re just one of the many, many people that came together to do it.”

She asked her staff to help out as well since Alleman was one of their sports kids.

“He’s such a sweet little boy — he played basketball in the winter and t-ball in the spring. That’s when he was diagnosed,” Dennis said. “He’s a little fellow; he’s only 6.”

Bendetti also expressed her appreciation for the volunteers from Alleman’s neighborhood, the Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group and friends of friends who turned out.

“We couldn’t have begun to have this type of event without the YMCA,” she said.

She also thanked First Baptist Church of Rincon for holding a second day of the bone marrow drive Sunday.

An account has been set up at the Bank of America for anyone wanting to help the family with their medical bills.