‘They’re fighting for their lives every day’

On Saturday, April 27, Girl Talk Marlton and the Alexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation will host a “Butterfly Tea Party Fundraiser” with 100 percent of the profits benefiting the foundation.

Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death by disease among children, but only 4 percent of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer each year, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

When Alivia Nawrocki learned about these statistics, she was spurred into action and wanted to help shine a light on the lack of funding. So, when her leader at Girl Talk Marlton reached out to see if she was interested in hosting a fundraiser, Nawrocki was ready to get to work.

On Saturday, April 27, Girl Talk Marlton and the Alexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation will host a “Butterfly Tea Party Fundraiser” with 100 percent of the profits benefiting the foundation. The event will take place at 1 p.m. at The Rising Community Fellowship & Outreach Center in Moorestown.

In 2002, the Nawrocki family lost 23-month-old Alexa to stage IV neuroblastoma. Nawrocki’s parents created the Alexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation in memory of their daughter. The foundation supports families who are dealing with pediatric cancer by helping with expenses like bills and gas while their loved one undergoes treatment.

Three years ago, Nawrocki’s mother, Joann, saw a post on Facebook about one of Girl Talk Marlton’s events and dragged a reluctant Nawrocki to the gathering. She loved the group immediately.

Girl Talk Marlton is a chapter of the international nonprofit Girl Talk, Inc. The program opens its doors to girls 10 to 18, and the older girls mentor the younger ones as they navigate the difficult adolescent years. Girls do not have to be Marlton residents to join, and the girls are currently trying to grow the group in Moorestown where they now hold their monthly meetings.

So, when the group’s adult advisor, Mary Beth Iannarella, was considering having the girls host a fundraiser, she thought it was only right that she ask Nawrocki if she was interested in organizing a charitable tea party to benefit her family’s nonprofit. Fifteen-year-old Nawrocki, who had recently been doing some research on pediatric cancer statistics as part of a school project, thought the timing was perfect.

Nawrocki said the goal of the tea party is to raise awareness about pediatric cancer.

“It’s a serious thing that not a lot of people think of,” Nawrocki said. “They’re fighting for their lives every day.”

The festivities will include afternoon tea and refreshments as well as raffles, vendors, door prizes and a prize for best tea party hat. Nawrocki and her fellow Girl Talk Marlton members have been hard at work contacting local businesses for donations and sponsorships.

“Tattoo Tom” Mitchell will serve as the event’s guest speaker. Each year, Mitchell runs 200 miles in honor of children impacted by pediatric cancer. Each mile represents a child affected by the disease, and for the past few years, Mitchell has dedicated a mile to Alexa.

The Rising Community Fellowship & Outreach Center in Moorestown has been hosting Girl Talk’s monthly meetings since the church’s marketing coordinator, Irene French, met Iannarella back in December at a Moorestown Business Association meeting, so they were more than happy to offer up their space for the fundraiser.

“Their values went so well with my church because we’re non-denominational,” French said. “We believe in being very inclusive and supporting. I felt that Girl Talk was just the perfect fit.”

There’s not a specific fundraising goal in mind, but more than anything, Nawrocki is hopeful the event brings some more awareness to pediatric cancer.

“Come and have your eyes opened,” Nawrocki said.

The tea party is open to ladies of all ages and kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Girl Talk Marlton is still seeking sponsors. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit www.AlexasButterflyFriends.com or http://www.girltalkmarlton.org.