Montville — The city’s police force extended its fundraising efforts until December this year to continue supporting two local cancer patients: a mother and a 4-year-old boy.
This is the department’s fifth year participating in No Shave November, a month-long awareness and fundraising drive where participants grow their hair to support those who can’t.
Officers in the department are usually not allowed to grow beards, but the mayor allows them for the month of November. Upon request, Mayor Ron McDaniel said this year they could extend their donations and grow their beards in December.
Officer Karen Aleshire, chair of the department’s union, said each officer is donating at least $50 each month to take part in the campaign. Members of the public can also make donations through sponsorship officials. The department has also sold pink patches since October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with all profits going to the two families.
To purchase a band-aid, make a donation, or sponsor an officer, members of the public can go to the department at 911 Route 32 in Uncasville or speak to an officer.
Last year, the money raised from the department went to retired Sgt. Dennis Mathers, whose daughter had breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy. Before that, their donations went to an organization and a police officer in another city.
Aleshire wanted to continue helping local families. As a school resource officer, she said she had contacted school principals. She asked if there were any families at their school who have been affected by cancer and could use extra help.
She learned of two schools, Mohegan Elementary and Oakdale School.
At Mohegan Elementary, teacher Lisa Kaplan vouched for the mother of a college student who was diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years ago. Her name and ethnicity have not been disclosed due to her privacy and security.
Kaplan sent an email to Aleshire. She told her that the mother had become very ill, had lost her hair and had to quit her job because of treatments.
A few months before the coronavirus pandemic, Kaplan said she noticed the mother was visibly better. The mother approached her to tell her that her cancer was gone.
But the mother’s cancer came back last summer, and it’s been reaching her bones since the beginning of the school year. Kaplan said the financially struggling family faces the hardships of medical bills, gas and parking fees, and lost wages.
“Not only would this financial support mean the world to this family, it would also be an incredible gesture of kindness to a family who chose to make America their home and realize a dream for their children,” Kaplan wrote in her statement. e-mail.
Oakdale Elementary staff sent Aleshire to the Lundy family. The family has a 4-year-old son named Bennett “Benny” Lundy, who has a rare cancer called Langerhans cell histiocytosis, or LCH. The day covered his Make-A-Wish event in July.
The Lundys, a naval family, moved to Montville this year to be closer to where Benny is being treated at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
Benny has been on chemotherapy for over a year, starting in October 2020. In his early stages, cancer was found in his liver, pituitary gland, lymph nodes in his neck and lymph nodes in his stomach.
He is now on two courses of chemotherapy plus high doses of steroids, but there is little change in his tumors. His one-year scan showed new lesions in his liver and some in his brain.
“Benny is still one of the happiest kids you’ll ever meet,” Stephanie Lundy wrote in an email to Aleshire. “You would never know from his behavior that he has cancer.”
The Lundys need financial help to supplement their insurance, medicines, gasoline for travel and pay their piles of medical bills.
Police have raised more than $5,000 so far through patch sales and agent donations. When the fundraiser hits $10,000, Aleshire has promised to allow Benny, his brother James and his classmates to shave her head.
Aleshire said the Montville Fire Brigade has also been very supportive, making a direct donation to the Lundy family.
“Our family is honored that our local police have opened their hearts to support Benny in his fight,” Stephanie Lundy told The Day. “We moved to Oakdale not knowing how much we would be helped and how much love and support we would receive from strangers.”