Sherrie and Michael Wells started the Hugs for Brady Foundation in 2009, shortly after their 13-month-old son, Brady Michael, was diagnosed with Non-Differentiated Acute Leukemia, a very rare form of leukemia. Over the next 10 months, Brady’s tiny little body went through 66 blood and platelet transfusions, multiple surgeries and six rounds of intensive chemotherapy. After all he had been through, Brady’s doctors told Sherrie and Michael the news no parent ever wants to hear: There was nothing more they could do. Brady passed away in his mother’s arms one month before what would have been his 2nd birthday. The organization was formally formed as a 501(c)(3) two months later. Brady’s memory lives on in the work of the Hugs for Brady Foundation, which supports children battling cancer “one hug at a time” and funds applied research to ultimately find a cure.
The mission of the Hugs for Brady Foundation is to eradicate pediatric cancer and to bring joy to local children battling this disease. We strive to increase awareness for the need to become a donor for blood, platelets, and bone marrow, to provide resources to hospitals and cancer institutions to enhance the lives of pediatric cancer patients, and to fund research to find a cure for childhood cancer.
- Expand the Hugs in the Hospital program: We hope to expand our Hugs in the Hospital programming to include more holiday celebrations for children spending a holiday in the hospital. Currently, we host annual Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve celebrations and we would like to expand this programming to include more holidays, including Halloween and Fourth of July.
- Continue our commitment to research: We plan to sustain our funding commitment to the Hugs for Brady Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Lab and look forward to the progress made by the research team there.
- Build organizational capacity and expand the board: In this unprecedented period of exciting growth and change, we plan to focus on our long-term sustainability, build our capacity to ensure the successful delivery of our programming and to expand our board in order to extend our reach into the local community.
We raise money through events, partnerships with local businesses and foundations and through individual giving. Our biggest fundraiser of the year is our annual Winter Gala, taking place at the Palace at Somerset Park on March 2. This is our largest source of unrestricted revenue. We also hosted the Toby Tyler Invitational Golf Tournament in October of 2018 and plan to continue in October 2019. We partner also with local businesses, schools, and community groups to host fundraisers on our behalf. Last, but certainly not least, the Hugs for Brady Foundation is a grassroots organization that relies on giving from individuals.
2018 was a banner year for the Hugs for Brady Foundation!
- In August, we announced a $500,000 pledge to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to support a dedicated laboratory space for pediatric cancer research — the only lab of its kind in our state.
- Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund, we were able to deliver a Brady Buggy Wagon to a hospital serving kids in nearly every state in the country.
- Raised over $285,000 for the fight against childhood cancer and — the best part — we were able to celebrate the night with some of our amazing oncology families thanks to donors sponsoring their tickets.
- Small gifts from hundreds of donors enabled us to donate more than $10,000 in items to the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick.
- Donate Brady Buggies to pediatric oncology centers in the U.S. and abroad. The Brady Buggy is a specially designed wagon that safely transports a child and an IV pole as a single unit, with “kid-friendly” animal designs.
- Support children and their families with generous donations of toys, games, books, food, clothing and other necessities to support their fight against cancer.
- Fund entrepreneurial childhood cancer research.
We are incredibly grateful that individuals from all walks of life and throughout the country support the Hugs for Brady Foundation! We have giving that varies from monthly gifts of $5 all the way to individual contributions of $20,000 — no gift is too small or too large!
We are always looking for dedicated volunteers to join our board of directors! We are seeking skilled volunteers in the following areas of expertise to volunteer on specific projects, provide advice and insight, or serve on our committees and boards.
As a small, local nonprofit, we are always seeking volunteers who are able to donate their time and talents toward helping our mission! Please visit hugsforbrady.org and click “get involved!” to see our current list of volunteer opportunities!
Where: 4 Quentin Road, Kendall Park, 08824
Serving: We serve all of New Jersey.
Key members: Sherrie Wells, founder; Sarah Lott, director of development.
For more information go to: hugsforbrady.org or 908-334-7740.