Linden Kindergartner’s Selflessness Gives Boost to a Magical Night

The Linden community came together on May 3 for a night of magic and comedy to help the families of two elementary school children who are battling cancer.

The “Make Cancer Disappear” show at McManus Middle School raised money to help the families of School No. 8 second-grader Isabel Dominguez, who is fighting leukemia, and School No. 1 third- grader Arion Mamudi, who is battling osteosarcoma.

Both families were in attendance for the night of love and laughter featuring comedian and ventriloquist John Pizzi and magician Joe Holiday. Both donated their performances to the cause.

The show also benefited The Valerie Fund, which offers support that allows students to keep up with their schoolwork while they are undergoing treatments.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get any more magical, another rabbit popped out of the hat.

When School No. 8 kindergartner Anna Brum heard about the fundraiser, which was organized by her technology teacher Kim Kefalas, she told her mother that she didn’t want any presents for her birthday.

She wanted everyone to donate to the fundraiser instead.

She ended up raising $450 to give to Kefalas, which brought the total to over $5,000 to be divided among Arion, Isabel, and The Valerie Fund.

“As a teacher, there is a nothing more important that I can teach these kids than to inspire them to be kind to people,” Kefalas said. “And she’s inspiring me. At six years old, she’s setting an example for every adult. I could not be more proud of her.”

The Board of Education honored Anna at its meeting on May 30, where she was surprised by Kefalas with a bag of donated gifts to make sure that she got some birthday presents after all.

Kefalas, who teaches at School No. 8 and School No. 10, is a cancer survivor herself. She feels obligated to help raise money and awareness because of all the help and kindness she was shown from the Linden Public Schools community when she was fighting breast cancer.

“I had one of those days really bad days,” she recalled. “It was a bad chemo day and it was awful weather. I remember sitting in my house and saying, ‘God, if you just get me through this, I swear I will do everything I can to pay it forward.’” For the past two years, she has sold T-shirts that read “Fight Like a Tiger” in honor of the Linden mascot, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.