Special benefit bash for brave girl

By Helen Klein

As a Bay Ridge child battles for her life, a local business is pitching in by hosting a fundraiser on her behalf. Silhouette, a women’s health and fitness center at 530 86th Street, will be holding the fundraiser on Sunday, March 2, beginning at 3:30 p.m. and lasting until 5:30 p.m., for seven-year-old Rachel Rodin, a second-grader at Public School 185, who is suffering from leukemia. According to Silhouette’s public relations manager, Kerry Schwartz, numerous area businesses – including Century 21, Modell’s, Starbucks and Run For Your Life – will be participating in the event, with all money raised going to Rachel. There will be food and beverages for sale, said Schwartz, as well as raffles. In addition, if people join Silhouette during the event, half of the membership fee will be donated to Rachel, said Schwartz. Admission to the event is free. “Every year we do something for our clients and people in the neighborhood,” noted Schwartz. “Last year, we did Toys for Tots. This year, it is for Rachel.” Rachel, who is currently hospitalized at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is fighting her second bout with leukemia. She was first diagnosed with the life-threatening blood disease at the age of three, and went through over two years of chemotherapy that time, before going into remission for about two years While Rachel was determined, last year, to be in need of a bone marrow transplant, a satisfactory donor was not found; for this reason, doctors decided to go ahead with a different treatment, recently giving Rachel stem cells from fetal cord blood. That procedure was done on Friday, February 22 following a week in which her own blood marrow was eliminated through radiation. According to Rachel’s mother, Elvira, it can take up to three months for the stem cells to settle in and begin, “reproducing the new cells that will make red and white cells as well as platelets.” Because of the procedures she has undergone, until her body begins to make its own blood cells and platelets, Rachel will need transfusions of both. The cost of treatment is extremely expensive, even with insurance, according to a family friend who stressed, “It’s just endless, like a snowball.” While Rachel’s father is still working, her mother left her job to be at the hospital with Rachel. The cost of testing bone marrow donors who turned out in droves for a bone marrow drive in January was paid for with donations. For further information on the event at Silhouette, call 718-748-7700. Those who wish to keep track of Rachel’s progress and leave messages of encouragement can log onto Rachel’s web page at www.caringbridge.orgvisit rachelrodin. For those interested in donating blood or platelets, donations must be made at Memorial Hospital, 1250 First Avenue in Manhattan, by appointment only. The hospital’s donor room is open Friday through Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free parking for donors is available at the hospital garage on East 66th Street, between York and First Avenues. It takes about an hour to donate blood, with the actual donation taking about 10 minutes, and about 2 and a half hours to donate platelets, with the actual donation taking from 60 to 90 minutes. For more information on donating blood and platelets for Rachel, log onto www. mskcc.org/blooddonations, or call Mary Thomas at 212-639-3335.

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