CHESHIRE – Local businesses are rallying together in mid-May to support a town native who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Longtime Cheshire resident Tiffany Stevenson, 44, was diagnosed on Jan. 28 with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a rare sub-type of blood cancer that affects red and white blood cells and platelets in the human body. Following her diagnosis, she underwent several tests, blood and platelet transfusions, and chemotherapy, all of which resulted in high medical costs.
Further testing showed blast cells in her blood—a sign of leukemia. She was admitted that evening and has been undergoing treatment ever since.
To help combat the debt incurred by the family, various businesses in town will be hosting special fundraising programs on this weekend.
Erik Vazquez, Cheshire resident and realtor with Team Powerhouse at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, said he met the Stevenson family through some mutual friends. Vazquez was originally planning to hold a general fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society but, when he heard of Stevenson’s diagnosis from his marketing agent Kara Chymbor-Hunter, Vazquez decided to make his efforts more personal.
“It was a no-brainer,” Vazquez said. “Let’s focus our efforts. Let’s redirect our efforts to the family and the family only, and let’s get them some assistance.”
Vazquez got the rest of his team on board in mid-March and they began reaching out to local businesses to get involved with hosting events.
On Friday, Mr. Bimonte’s Pizza will host a fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. at the restaurant, 155 Highland Ave. A portion of the proceeds will be given directly to the Stevenson family.
On Saturday, Fitness Xpress, 1020 South Main St., will be holding a spin-a-thon program from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as other events throughout the day. All proceeds will be dedicated to the Stevenson family.
On Sunday, there will be a walk on the Cheshire Farmington Canal Heritage Trail sponsored by Elle Salon & Spa, Cheshire West Community Butterfly Gardens, Bike Cheshire, and Sarah’s Pet Sitting & Dog Training.
“...there will be a table there where folks who want to can stop on the trail and can write a card to Tiffany,” explained Vazquez.
Vazquez said businesses were quick to help out however they can.
“So far, everybody has been fantastic,” Vazquez said. “Everybody that we’ve spoken to or given a general overview to, everybody has been like, ‘I’ll help with what I can.’ It’s been very generous.”
Other local businesses, such as Main Street Caffe, Red Owl Jewelry and Gifts, and Brian’s Guitars, will also be participating, whether by putting out a donation jar on counters or donating a portion of their daily proceeds.
Following Tiffany’s diagnosis, sister-in-law and lifelong friend Casey Stevenson organized her own fundraiser to help her loved one out. Casey Stevenson and other close friends formed “Tiffany’s Warriors,” referencing her strength in a time of need.
“From day one when she was diagnosed, she was just a warrior,” reflected Casey Stevenson. “To be told you not only have a very rare form of cancer, but a very aggressive form of cancer, she never once did the 'woe is me' (act).”
They organized a benefit dinner held at the Cheshire Recreation Department on March 30. There was a line of people outside the door 15 minutes before the event began, Casey Stevenson recalled. At one point, they had to order more food than they originally anticipated.
“We stopped counting at just over 200 (people),” she said. “It just happened so quick and went so beautifully, and people’s generosity was just overwhelming. People were buying tickets just to come in (and donate).”
For more information on the event, as well as the group Tiffany’s Warriors, visit www.parentuup.com/twt.