“You can ask me two questions, the third one’s a dollar fifty,” said Gerald Zelenka from a booth at The Society of MSK’s Bunny Hop, the Bonpoint-sponsored event that boasts child-friendly activities such as face painting, doughnut decorating and, of course, dancing.
A former MSK patient, Zelenka has been attending the event for “a long, long time,” bringing another form of kid-approved entertainment with him: animals.
“You like hedgehogs?” he said, pulling out the prickly creature, just one of dozens — snakes, frogs, small birds, rabbits, chinchillas, “nothing endangered” — that he had brought with him for the early evening bash. “A young boy that was here was doing a project at school, so I was trying to give him some ideas on tortoises. It’s kinda cool.” Who said entertainment couldn’t be educational?
Virginia Tomenson, vice chair of MSK’s Associates Committee, was nearby, supervising her daughter. “[She] seems to be very interested in the dancing and now she just pointed to her face and asked to go face painting,” she said.
Cochaired by Austen Cruz, Celia Nichols Najar, Marisa van Bokhorst and Caroline Los Arcos, the event benefits the department of pediatrics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And, as Jamee Gregory put it, it’s a great way for parents to introduce their children to the work The Society does.
“I was just thinking my [granddaughter] Carolina would be in heaven ‘cause there’s nothing she loves more than the squishy bunnies they’re giving as presents,” said Gregory, president of The Society of MSK. “I think that this is a wonderful way for us as a society to introduce our children to the idea that they can help and make a difference. As they grow older, they’ll remember coming here. It’s a nice way to start a conversation about helping people and how we find money for research to fight these rare diseases and childhood diseases. If you’re introduced to the Society’s works at four, I think you’re gonna have a good memory — if it just starts with balloon and a popcorn.”
Or even with a hedgehog.
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