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Fundraiser to benefit Brocton boy with rare disease

September 8, 2016
Westfield Republican

Area union members from all over Chautauqua County are teaming up to play a benefit hockey game on Friday at the Northwest Arena in Jamestown. The Line of Courage Spartans and the Lakeview Shock Bulldogs will be taking to the ice to raise money for Brennen Maddox, 7, of Brocton to help send him to Walt Disney World this November.

Brennen is the 7-year-old son of Erin Stewart and Herbert Maddox of Brocton and was born with progeria, a fatal genetic condition for which there is no cure. Brennen is the only child in all of New York state with the condition.

At any given time, there are only 180 to 200 children worldwide with progeria, which is characterized by accelerated aging, growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. The children have a remarkably similar appearance despite differing ethnic backgrounds, according to the Progeria Research Foundation.

Article Photos

Brennen Maddox

Earlier this year, Team Brennen, the unofficial name for the fundraising group that works to raise money for the boy, was approached by a local family who wished to donate their timeshare for a week to Brennen and his family.

The timeshare is within close proximity to Walt Disney World. Shortly after the generous donation was accepted, volunteers from Team Brennen started working toward raising money to pay for airfare, park tickets, food and general spending money. There was a gofundme page created online so people from all over the world could donate to the cause.

After a few months, the effort lost steam with the $5,000 goal still a ways off.

As luck would have it, a volunteer for Team Brennen received a phone call about a month and a half ago from one of the Lakeview Shock Bulldogs who expressed their interest in sponsoring Team Brennen this year for their benefit hockey game. Members were eager to accept the offer and plans were immediately set in motion to put the event together.

"Basically what started out last year as sort of a tune-up game for the upcoming winter hockey league turned into a union members game," said Eric Herman, a member of the Line of Courage Spartans. " Members of the Lakeview Corrections union played my team made up of mostly union police and firefighters. I talked to their captain last year and we decided to hold a 50-50 raffle before and during the game to see what happens."

Last year, the game raised funds for Kallie's Krusade as Kallie's father, Shane, is a police officer.

The Line of Courage Spartans are made up of members from the Jamestown police and fire departments, the Dunkirk police and fire departments as well as the county Sheriff's Department and New York State Police. Lakeview Shock Bulldog members are corrections officers from Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility.

As for selecting Team Brennen this year, Herman said: "In the beginning this season, I had no idea what we were going to do. Early on I thought that if we were going to make this a yearly event, we could choose a different local family, individual or charity that would use some assistance this year. I was talking to the captain of the Bulldogs, Tony Privitera, and we settled on a date, but had no beneficiary at that point. Then, he mentioned Brennen and suggested we donate to him. Upon hearing his story, I agreed.

Team Brennen considers the offer to be "truly a blessing," said Chris Sausaman.

"According to Brennen's mom, he is super excited," he said. "Brennen loves hockey. The teams plan on bringing Brennen out on the ice, driving him around a bit and then having him drop the puck to start the game.

"We want this night to be a celebration of Brennen. This is an event that everyone can come to. It's a great night out for families, couples and all generations. It's an excellent opportunity to show children the concept of charity and giving to others in need while having some fun.

"It's my hope that people who attend get a chance to meet Brennen and are left with his impact much like all of us who know him have been. While a little shy at first, Brennen is a loveable kid with an infectious personality."

In addition to the hockey game, there will be a basket raffle and 50-50 cash drawing. Refreshments will be available to purchase. The game starts at 7 p.m. and more information can be found on Facebook on the Team Brennen page as well as the Line of Courage page.



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