A local family caring for a child with a rare genetic disorder is $30,000 closer to reaching their $1 million research fundraising goal following a benefit dance put on by the Paradise and District Lions Club in St. Clements Oct. 3.
Gabbie Strauss suffers from cystinosis, a genetic disease that is slowly destroying all the organs in her body.
When parents Trevor and Jody realized how serious their daughter’s condition was early in her life, the couple immediately reached out to see what kind of support was available. The answer: not much. Cystinosis affects about 2,000 people worldwide, 500 of them in the United States and probably only about 50 in Canada. There simply was no foundation in Canada; the closest was the Cystinosis Research Foundation (CRF) in California.
In response, the Strausses created Gabbie’s Wish – the Cystinosis Awareness and Research Effort (CARE) in partnership with the CRF. All the money raised goes to research toward finding a cure. Their efforts were quickly stepped up when an anonymous donor offered to match any donations to the CRF, up to $1 million.
Earlier this month, the Paradise and District Lions Club in St. Clements assisted the Strauss family with a benefit dance. Club member Annette Kuhn said that when the Strausses approached the Lions in May for support, complete with a visit from Gabbie and a slideshow presentation, there was no question as to whether they would help, only how they could best do it.
“When we met Gabbie and heard her story, we decided right then and there to do what we can.”
Some 350 people turned up to the dance held at the St. Clements Community Centre, all the hall could accommodate. The Lions Club helped out the cause by donating to the charity, as well as selling tickets to the event and running the bar. The silent auction alone raised more than $20,000 for the cause.
Gabbie’s mother Jody, who is originally from eastern Ontario, was taken aback by the outpouring of care from the St. Clements community.
“I personally was overwhelmed to see the number of people from a small community come out and support our family and support Gabbie and Trevor’s family. It truly was amazing.”
In addition to some of Trevor’s elementary, high school and family friends, many people in attendance did not know the family at all.
“How can I possibly thank people enough? People who came to support, and volunteers from the Lions Club – they don’t know Gabbie at all but they still came and opened their hearts and ours.”
For more information or to help out the cause, visit www.gabbieswish.com.