Sunshine Kids wins Petit Family Foundation grant

Published: December 24, 2014 | Last Modified: December 25, 2014 11:01AM

Ken Liebeskind The Plainville Citizen

Nicholas Reyna is one of thousands of kids who have benefited from the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which funds fun filled trips for children with cancer and in March he will enjoy a ski weekend at Powder Ridge in Middlefield.

The ski trip is made possible by a grant of $7,500 from the Petit Family Foundation in Plainville that presented a check to the organization on Dec. 23, along with checks for two other charities.

As a physician Ive seen kids with cancer and they are a local group that will affect a lot of kids, said William Petit, Jr., president of the Petit Family Foundation. Its a lot of bang for the buck and theyre the kind of people we want to help with the mission.

Reyna, 26, suffered from a germ cell brain tumor at the age of seven and complications from chemo and radiation treatment and spinal issues that led to back surgery. Im the only one in the history of Connecticut to survive the surgery, he said, and Im still doing karate.

Brooks Tomb, director of the Sunshine Kids regional office in Hartford said Reyna was the national spokeskid for the charity in 2007 and is considered the senior Sunshine Kid today.

Reyna visited the Petit Family Foundation office with Tomb on Dec. 23 to accept the check that will fund the Sunshine Kids ski trip.

The Petit Family Foundation also presented a $10,000 check to a representative of the Susan B. Anthony Project and a $5,000 check to Hoops for the Homeless. The Susan B. Anthony Project, based in Torrington, supports victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault in Northwest Connecticut. Hoops for the Homeless in New Britain supports local projects that directly address homelessness of local children and families.

Our mission is to educate young people and help people affected by violence and chronic illness, Petit said. The Petit Family Foundation was founded in 2008 after Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela were murdered in their Cheshire home on July 23, 2007.

The foundation streamlines donations the family received after the brutal murders and raises money through golf tournaments, 5k races and motorcycle events. It has awarded $1.25 million since 2008 and issues grants for $300,000 a year, Petit said.

This year, a signature grant of $100,000 was awarded to the Multiple Sclerosis Project in Simsbury to support Ojakian Commons, a 48 unit housing complex designed to accommodate people with multiple sclerosis and intellectual disabilities. It is the first facility of its kind in the country, Petit said.