Congratulations to Kindness Hero Contest Winner Tara Wesoloskie!
Tara Wesoloskie and her family were forever changed when her daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer at just 21 days old. Tara and her family – her husband Cory and children Nick and Caroline – rallied around Charlotte, directing all their energy to saving her life. After a grueling year of chemo and multiple surgeries, Charlotte was declared cancer free.
Inspired by Charlotte’s battle, the Wesoloskie family was determined to do something to help other kids who faced cancer and their families. When Nick was just 7 years old he had the idea to challenge his classmates to wear their pajamas to school in solidarity with kids like Charlotte who spend long periods of time in their PJs during cancer treatment. Tara and Nick approached school leaders with the idea, and participants were asked to donate $1 or more in support of pediatric cancer research, clinical trials and care at Connecticut Children's, where Tara works as a nurse. In the first year, PJ Day raised $500, and over the last decade, it has raised more than $2 million.
Tara has become an ambassador of PJ Day, running events and handling speaking engagements, all while caring for her patients and their families. Her husband Cory nominated her for the Kindness Hero contest, calling her “one of the most kind and selfless people anyone could know.”
“I am nominating Tara because of all the hard work she puts into this event every year, asking nothing in return for herself,” he wrote. “When PJ Day time comes around, Tara truly has two jobs. She is not only a pediatric nurse, but is a true ambassador of PJ Day, working all hours of the night no matter how tired she is. She has put in countless hours, driven all over the state, held countless meetings, television news interviews and coordinated movie nights and raffles, all for PJ Day.”
PJ Day has grown into much more than the Wesoloskie family ever imagined, becoming an annual fundraising event gaining support statewide, with participation from 450 schools and 200 businesses in 164 Connecticut towns. Connecticut Children's has adopted PJ Day as one of their signature events, and has recognized it as one of their top sources of funds. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to lifesaving childhood cancer research, clinical trials and care at the medical center.
What started as one small act of kindness has turned into an event that helps save young lives every year.
Though she and Nick founded PJ Day for the Kids, Tara shies away from taking the credit and turns the spotlight on ‘Team PJ Day’.
“This event is the success it is, because of the people who make it happen in their own communities,” says Tara. “We’re so grateful to everyone statewide who pours their heart into this initiative, making it what it is.
Charlotte, the survivor and fighter who inspired it all, is now 14 years old and thriving. But approximately 100 kids are diagnosed with cancer at Connecticut Children’s every year, and hundreds more are being treated or are experiencing long-term effects from their therapies.
“As long as there’s no answers, we have funds to raise,” says Tara.
Tara Wesoloskie is Liberty Bank’s Kindness Hero for helping fight childhood cancer. To honor Tara and all that she does to support PJ Day, Tara has won a cash prize of $2,500 and a $2,500 donation to Connecticut Children’s. For more information about PJ Day for the Kids, visit http://give.connecticutchildrens.org/pjday.
Above: Kurt Knotts, manager of philanthropic events at CT Children's with Kindness Hero Tara Wesoloskie.
Top image: Cory Wesoloskie, Nick Wesoloskie, and Tara Wesoloskie with Kurt Knotts, manager of philanthropic events at CT Children's.
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