Swain student donates birthday party to charity
Carly Kudryk, a pre-kindergarten student at the Swain School, Allentown, turned five on Feb. 21.
She celebrated her birthday in a unique way recently at Revolutions, Bethlehem, by donating her party to charity.
She was inspired by a campaign called “BirthdayBack,” a program started by Tyler Fazzari, of Long Island, N.Y.
In 2012, after Hurricane Sandy, Tyler wanted to donate his eighth birthday to a charity that helped hurricane recovery efforts, which some of his own family were personally affected by.
After raising over $20,000 that year, Tyler has continued to support different causes for his birthday each year raising over $50,000.
It is about raising money for worthy causes in one’s local community, while appreciating the blessings in one’s own life.
“The campaign’s overall message is to celebrate by giving,” Carly’s mom Robin Coleman-Kudryk said.
Coleman-Kudryk and Tyler’s mom Erica have been best friends since college.
“We felt it was the right time for our family to try a BirthdayBack fundraiser,” Coleman-Kudryk said.
Approximately 200 people attended Carly’s party.
So far $4,000 has been raised for “Carly’s BirthdayBackPACKS.”
Donations were made online and are still being accepted at the following web address: bit.ly/carlysbdaybackpacks.
With assistance from the Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley, the funds will be used to purchase school supplies and backpacks for local students in need.
JFS is a familiar place for Carly and her family.
Carly has donated her Halloween candy to them the past two years.
This past year, Carly personally dropped off her candy and volunteered in the JFS food pantry.
“Carly is obsessed with school and absolutely loves it, which is how the backpack drive came about” Coleman-Kudryk said. “We approached JFS to see if there was another way we could help local children together. Chelsea Karp, JFS volunteer coordinator, told us she knew of someone who performed a backpack campaign from a previous employer. She thought it would be a great fit to try that in the Lehigh Valley.”
“We hope to continue this campaign,” Coleman-Kudryk said. “This summer, Carly and her friends will assist JFS staff with shopping for the school supplies and backpacks, then they will stuff them for distribution before the 2018-2019 school year begins.”
Coleman-Kudryk and her husband Michou Kudryk had difficulty getting pregnant prior to Carly.
They knew when Carly was born she was their miracle.
“We had a lot of gracious support on our challenging road to parenthood from friends, family and health care providers,” Coleman-Kudryk said. “We knew that we wanted to show Carly how precious life is and the importance of giving. She is a miracle in so many ways.”
Planning for the event took Carly’s parents three months.
Through an extensive amount of research trying to find a venue that would accommodate their needs, they chose Revolutions.
Robin and Michou arranged several activities and provided an extensive gourmet for their daughter’s “BirthdayBack” guests.
These included “Face Painting by Kim Einsla” of the Lehigh Valley, who decorated faces for a long line of excited kids.
Disc jockey Anthony L (Anthony Lunghi) of Hackettstown, N.J. played music.
A photo booth built by Carly’s dad was available for those that wanted to make their own memories.
There was a red carpet at the entrance for added glamour.
They also had craft activities available: making slap bracelets, designing bookmarks and writing colorful gratitude cards placed in a gratitude jar.
“Carly’s card said that she was grateful for her mom and dad, which melted both our hearts,” Coleman-Kudryk said.
Revolutions’ General Manager Heather Chouda donated 12 bowling lanes for the guests to use and provided a large screen at the end of the lanes that showed the logo for Carly’s event.
The logo was designed by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
JFS provided candy for the party and Wegmans of Allentown provided a discount on one of the birthday cakes.
Through a volunteer sign-up sheet organized by Coleman-Kudryk, attendees helped run the photo booth, assisted at the craft tables and coordinated dancing games.
Volunteers included upper-level students from the Swain School, close family friends and their niece and nephew Max and Molly Coleman.
Emily Kapelsohn, a family friend and student at Muhlenberg College, helped coordinate the volunteers at the party and took pictures of the event.
Megan Brown, another friend and fellow Swain School parent, generously baked cupcakes for the event.
She offered much support and assistance, too.
“Several other close friends also helped by donating craft supplies and lending a hand when it was needed,” Coleman-Kudryk said. “Many family members from out of town also made the trip to attend Carly’s party. The event was a complete success, and most importantly Carly had a blast.”
Courageously standing up in front of everyone, Carly gave a speech expressing her sincere thanks to everyone for coming and explained why kids can always use school supplies.
She told the crowd it was her dream to have everybody there.
In closing, she invited everyone to share a dance with her to one of her favorite songs, “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”
“We are so proud of Carly and very pleased for what her party has done for the community,” Coleman-Kudryk said.
Carly made sure to hug everyone that attended the party.
She wore a shirt that said, “We will change the world.”
“My favorite part was getting my face painted and having all of my family and friends come,” Carly said. “I want to say thank you again to everyone for coming. I am excited about giving the backpacks to people that need them, and stuffing supplies in them with my friends.”
For those interested in donating to “Carly’s BirthdayBackPACKS,” can be made online at the following web address: bit.ly/carlysbdaybackpacks.
More information about hosting a “BirthdayBack” is available on their website www.birthdayback.com.