More than $41,000 raised for new fund at Bash at the Beach

New London — More than $41,000 was raised last weekend at the annual Bash at the Beach, and all of it has gone into the coffers of the newly established Cactus Jack Pediatric & Family Assistance Fund.  

"It's just heart-warming that the people of southeastern Connecticut are so generous and so great," said Bash organizer Michael Buscetto, the Waterford businessman who was the impetus behind the creation of the new fund that will help families and individuals in need.

More than 700 people attended the Jan. 2 Bash at Ocean Beach Park, many of them for the first time, and numerous individuals and businesses contributed toward the cause, Buscetto said.

Like the long-established Cactus Jack Foundation, the pediatric and family fund will never hand out cash but will identify people in need and pay utility or medical bills, buy gas or supermarket cards, or pay for household repairs for them. 

Over the past eight years, Buscetto's annual Bash at the Beach has cumulatively raised about $500,000, all of which has been given away.

Late last year, inspired by the ordeal of Matt and Aime Guarraia and their daughter, Madeline, of Niantic, Buscetto asked to combine his fundraising clout with the expertise of the nonprofit Cactus Jack Foundation to create a new fund to help families like the Guarraias.

Madeline Guarraia, 9, has been battling cancer for five years, and community support for the family has been overwhelming, in part due to her mother's candid posts on her Mad about Madeline Facebook page, which has been liked by more than 18,000 people.

Using social media, Aime Guarraia has honestly and effectively detailed the highs and lows of her daughter's illness and treatment.

The new fund will provide support for local families enduring hard times but whose hardships are less known or visible than the Guarraias, Buscetto said.

The new fund will be administered by Buscetto, Matt Guarraia and members of Cactus Jack, and all funding decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

"There's a great need out there, that's what keeps me going," said Buscetto, who owns Filomena's restaurant at 262 Boston Post Road in Waterford. "The need ... and realizing how blessed I am, and that desire to keep everyone afloat. Everyone should have a chance and a support system behind them," he said.

He added that the next Bash is already scheduled for Jan. 7, 2017, at Ocean Beach Park.

For more information or to donate, contact Buscetto at Filomena's or through email at mikebus@sbcglobal.net.

a.baldelli@theday.com

Twitter: @annbaldelli 

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