Teen organizes fundraiser for Jacob’s Heart

Jacob's Heart

Fifteen years ago, Cecilia Anaya fought cancer but lost the battle when she was just 11 years old. Throughout her journey, the girl and her family benefited greatly from Jacob’s Heart, a local organization that provides support services to cancer patients and their families.
Now the little girl’s uncle, Cesar Anaya, 17, is keeping her memory alive and giving back to Jacob’s Heart by raising funds for the organization. Although his aunt died when he was just a small boy, the family’s traditional weekly Saturday dinners, where stories about Cecilia are often shared, provide Anaya with a true connection to Cecilia.
“I feel her story,” he said.
Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, which was established in 1998, is dedicated to improving quality of life for children with cancer and their families in South Santa Clara, Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.
Anaya organized a fundraiser as a community outreach project for his Gavilan College communications class with the help of fellow students and YoghArt Frozen Yogurt Shop in Gilroy.
Loni Parmelly and Steve Vaughn, Gilroy residents and owners of YoghArt, were more than willing to offer their store as the location for the fundraiser, saying it’s easy to support something they really believe in.
“This just fit into our plans in the way we give back to the community,” Parmelly said.
Anaya and students Jack Wu, Crissy Simpson, Erika Cardenas, Matt Peterson and Michelle Patterson, who dubbed themselves the Helping Hearts Team, were on hand at the yogurt shop the day of the fundraiser to provide support for the shop’s staff.
For Anaya, the monetary gain wasn’t his main focus.
“This small fundraiser is more than being a fundraiser,” Anaya said. “It’s introducing what Jacob’s Heart is to the Santa Clara County.”
Regular YoghArt customers Monique Sandovan, her son Isaiah and daughter Anabella were not aware of the fundraiser when they stopped by the shop for a special treat, but they were more than happy to contribute.
“I’m glad that we’re here to support this,” Sandovan said. “I really like to be involved with the community.”
Gilroy residents Elia Kilmer and her daughter Liliana did know about the fundraiser and went out of their way to visit YoghArt. Liliana’s school had passed out flyers about the fundraiser, which she then shared with her mom.
“I feel like I made a good choice,” Liliana said. And her mom agreed.
“We always try our best to support the community,” Kilmer said.
At the end of the day, the fundraiser brought in $25 in donations and $56 from frozen yogurt sales for Jacob’s Heart.
Anaya launched an additional fundraiser for Jacob’s Heart on May 6—a raffle of two Nano iPods and a large stuffed gorilla. He thinks Cecilia would be pleased by his fundraising efforts.
“I think it would fill her with joy and happiness,” he said.
To purchase raffle tickets, make donations or for more information, call Jacob’s Heart at (831) 724-9100 or go to jacobsheart.org. For more photos of the fundraiser, go to www.morganhilltimes.com.