About a month ago, two-year-old Brooklynite Sadie Page was diagnosed with leukemia.
Since then, an overwhelming outpouring of support from her Clinton Hill neighborhood has shown just how the absolute worst of circumstances can bring out the very best in a community.
“The entire neighborhood sent food and clothing and toys,” said Erica James from the Carousel Children’s Center, where Sadie attends daycare. “It’s just been absolutely unbelievable.”
Still just a toddler, Sadie needs chemotherapy three times a week from the NYU Medical Center; treatments that have left her weak, isolated and susceptible to a host of other illnesses.
James, along with Carousel co-founder Arlene Hendricks, used their school’s network of parents, alumni and community contacts to help the child and her family as best they could.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” James said, after a single fundraiser garnered over $1,200 in a single night. “It’s very unfortunate that you have to see this type of thing, but the result is wonderful.”
In addition to the dozens of checks donated by families — made tax-deductible by some charitable Clinton Hill lawyers — the area’s artistic residents plan to hold a Web auction of their work to raise even more.
James said they are doing everything they can to raise money to help offset the costly medical treatments and make things easier for Sadie and her parents. And they thought of just about everything, including easy-to-overlook things like, well, dinner.
“Right now, we are making them dinner six days a week,” said Eva Radke, a Clinton Hill resident whose son attends Carousel with Sadie.
Volunteers had to set up a calendar so that Sadie and her parents didn’t receive five dinners every day. Radke, who gets to cook every other Wednesday, just bought a used bike with a basket on the front to run the food to the family’s doorstep.
“Parents can’t bear the thought of a sick child,” said Radke. “There's this sort of deep seated assurance that if it happened to any of us, we'd be there for each other. How much of yourself can you give?” she said.
Sadie and Radke’s son Hudson are good friends from the Carousel Children’s Center, but the girl’s treatments have left her immune system ravaged and she can’t risk exposure to germs.
“The thing that makes me sad is that Sadie can’t see other children just when she needs to,” Radke said.
“But she’ll bounce back from that,” she said. “We have a date at Splish Splash.”
Luckily, the diagnosis was good, but of course it’s still an incredibly difficult situation, James said. And hopefully, the efforts of Carousel and Sadie’s neighbors will make it that much easier.
But the relief effort would not be what it is if not for James and Hendricks at Sadie’s school. As soon as they found out, they tirelessly rallied the community to her cause — something they have never tried before.
Both retired teachers, James and Hendricks moved their school to Brooklyn eight years ago from Queens. Since then, the rapport they have established with friends and families in Clinton Hill have surely made it home.
“We take [the kids] all over and you think that people are not taking notice but they are,” said James. “It's amazing. Brooklyn people are wonderful, especially during a very scary time.”
Sadie’s parents, who politely requested their privacy, have nonetheless been overjoyed with the response to such devastating news and they plan to take it one day at a time.
“It's been really wonderful and it's more than I expected,” Radke said.
“People just refuse to have a tragedy and refuse to let someone go through that alone in this neighborhood.”
For more information on how to help, call Erica James at the Carousel Children’s Center at 718-596-7912.