Christopher’s Hemophilia Benefit Dinner
When: Friday, March 8, 8 p.m.
Where: Coral House, Baldwin
Tickets: $50. Contact Kelly Ambrosio, (516) 322-1013.
Christopher Ambrosio, a third-grader at West End Elementary School in Lynbrook, has severe hemophilia. His mother, Kelly, never thought she would see him do what he’s doing now — playing basketball — but he’s proven her wrong once again, she said. “He’s just like his friends,” she said. “I never thought in my life that I would see this.”
To honor Christopher, and to help raise funds for the New York City Hemophilia Walk, a chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation’s annual Walk Along the River in Riverside Park in Manhattan, his family and friends will host the fifth annual Christopher’s Hemophilia Benefit dinner and fundraiser on March 8, at 8 p.m., at the Coral House in Baldwin.
Started five years ago by family friends Jenny and Tom Atkinson and Rebekah Festa, the event raises money for the walk, which this year is scheduled for June 2. All proceeds from the dinner will be donated to a walking team known as “Christopher’s Crew.”
Christopher was born with hemophilia, a genetic bleeding disorder. He is missing a blood-clotting factor that is essential to prevent bleeding into the muscles, joints and major organs. His mother explained that blood goes through a dozen stages, or factors, to clot, and Christopher is missing the eighth factor.
“That’s when it all breaks down,” she said. “The clotting cascade stops, and his blood can’t clot properly. The real danger isn’t something visible like a cut or a scratch; it’s internal bleeding that we worry about. He can bleed into a muscle, a joint or an organ.”
Christopher could take a fall or bang into a wall, Kelly explained, and no one would know that’s he’s bleeding internally. The only treatment for him is infusions of Factor 8, which he gets every day through a surgically implanted port in his chest. “Twenty years ago, the only treatments were blood transfusions,” his mother said. “Now it’s a synthetic Factor 8, and we just push the needle in and out once a day.
“Ironically, though,” she continued, “exercise is good for hemophiliacs because it strengthens their muscles. They have to keep in good shape, so sports is good for him … and yes, it’s a little scary.”
Last year, thanks to the dinner, a garage sale and other fundraising efforts, Christopher’s Crew raised more than $30,000, and was recognized as the top fundraising team nationwide out of hundreds of teams and 21 different walk sites. Through the public’s support, Kelly said, treatments can create a better quality of life for children and adults with hemophilia. “Please help us continue to raise money for research and a cure for such a rare, devastating disease,” she said.
For more info about the walk, visit www.hemophilia.org/walk, and select a walk event, New York.