Ski Trip For Kids Among Plans For Petit Family Foundation Grants

By Bill Leukhardt contact the reporter Cancer William Petit Steven Hayes Joshua Komisarjevsky Yale-New Haven Hospital

PLAINVILLE — A day on the ski slopes sounds great to Nick Reyna, a pediatric cancer survivor from Rocky Hill, who was in town on Tuesday to help a national foundation get a $7,500 award from the Petit Family Foundation.

Reyna, 26 and the 2007 "spokeskid" for the Sunshine Kids Foundation — which aims to grant the wishes of ill, physically challenged or abused children and their families — has lingering effects from the chemotherapy and radiation used to rid germ-cell brain tumors that attacked him twice.

So he's thinking his day on the slopes, as a volunteer for the foundation as it brings children to Powder Ridge with the new grant, may best be spent in the lodge, enjoying the view and friends.

"It'll be fun to go," Reyna said, talking about the ski trip after meeting Dr. William Petit Jr, president of the Petit Family Foundation.

The Petit foundation was created after the July 2007 home invasion murders of Petit's wife, Jennifer Lynn Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Hayley Elizabeth, 17 and Michaela Rose, 11, by two men who broke into the home, beat William Petit nearly to death, tortured the women, then set the house on fire.

The two men were captured outside the burning home by police. Both — Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky — were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death.

The $7,500 award to Sunshine Kids Foundation was one of three the Petit Foundation made Tuesday. It also awarded $10,000 to the Susan B. Anthony Project, which help sexual assault and domestic violence victims in northwestern Connecticut, and $5,000 to Hoops for the Homeless, founded in 2011 in New Britain to help homeless children.

The grants awarded Tuesday end a year in which the Petit foundation distributed nearly $300,000 in grants and $75,000 in sponsorships, Petit said. Its mission statement is to counteract evil, specifically by aiding in the education of young people, help those affected by chronic illness and help and protect those affected by violence.

The $7,500 will let Sunshine take 20 cancer patients and survivors to Powder Ridge, said Brooks Tomb, regional director of the foundation created in 1982 by a Philadelphia police officer.

"We'll take kids from Connecticut Childrens' Medical Center in Hartford, from Yale-New Haven Hospital pediatric cancer center, and maybe some from Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx," said Tomb whose office is in Hartford. "This is going to be a really good trip for the kids."

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