by Ukee Washington
WOODBURY HEIGHTS, NJ (CBS) — A South Jersey charity is granting wishes to thousands of children going through hard times. The entire effort was inspired by a young woman who died too soon. We got to meet one of the children whose wish was granted.
Nine-year-old A.J. Kusch of Woodbury Heights enjoys playtime with his siblings Anthony and Olivia, at least when he has the energy. A.J. was having bad headaches this winter, explains his mother, Kristina Haydak.
“No medication was helping,” Kristina said, “so the doctor ordered an MRI and found a brain tumor.”
Because of the location of the tumor, it’s inoperable. A.J. gets chemo every Friday.
“It just makes me tired over the weekend,” A.J. said.
A.J.’s story reached the offices of Bianca’s Kids, a non-profit memorializing Bianca Yodice. She loved kids and was pursuing a social work degree when she was killed in a car crash in 2010. Gabriella Michael and other relatives are preserving her memory.
“Her aunt started Bianca’s Kids because she wanted to make sure her dream lived on,” Gabriella said.
Fulfilling wishes for kids like A.J. is exactly what they do. Gabriella found out that A.J. was a big sports fan.
“He loved the Eagles, and he was just this amazing little boy,” Gabriella said.
Thanks to Bianca’s Kids, A.J. went to his first Phillies game, and Bianca’s Kids got him into Philadelphia Eagles training camp with his grandfather.
“Me and my pop pop said that we’d probably get one or two autographs on my football, and I got the whole team,” A.J. said. “I don’t even know how to explain it because it’s that fun.”
“It’s really nice to know that there are people out there willing to help,” said A.J.’s mother. And every time a child is helped, Bianca is remembered.
“I think she looks down on us and she’s really excited that we touched the kids she wanted to touch,” Gabriella said.
Between the wishes they grant and the Christmas gifts they distribute, Bianca’s Kids estimates they’ve helped around 13,000 children. Almost all of the funding comes from small individual donations.