‘Every little bit helps’: Bayside gym hosting fundraiser to aid 2-year-old Floral Park boy’s fight against leukemia

Photo courtesy of Nicole Baseil.

Butch’s Boxing and MMA Gym in Bayside will be holding a fundraiser Nov. 19 to help 2-year-old Aiden Kruger fight leukemia.

Kruger, whose family resides in Floral Park, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on Jan. 28 of this year and has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since.

The most common type of cancer to affect children, ALL occurs when bone marrow cells develop errors in its DNA.

Despite the diagnosis, Aiden’s parents have worked hard in developing a routine for him so he could experience his childhood as positively as possible. He is slated to begin preschool soon at the Morgan Center, which acts as a preschool for children diagnosed with cancer.

Butch and Amanda Rinaldi, the owners and operators of Butch’s Boxing and MMA Gym, have a history of helping to raise money for causes like this. In 2018, they held a fundraiser for 3-year-old Olivia Tarazona, who, according to Amanda Rinaldi, is now doing much better.

“It was such an uplifting experience for everyone involved that we were sure we wanted to do it again,” Amanda Rinaldi said. “The participants who sparred and showcased drills felt motivated to sharpen their skills and Olivia and her family had a great time seeing us rally behind her. We always knew that we didn’t want to simply be a neighborhood boxing gym, but that we wanted to be a positive force within the community.  We take that ‘it takes a village’ expression to heart and would hope it would not only help families in need of support, but also positively influence the younger people in our gym to do the same for others.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic halted the gym’s efforts to plan more fundraisers, Amanda reached out to Olivia’s mother, Jen Tarazona, last summer. It was Jen who told Amanda about what Aiden was going through. Amanda reached out to Aiden’s parents and offered her assistance via a fundraiser.

Additionally, her students at the gym were eager to help contribute to the cause through sparring matches. They’ve been practicing and drilling tirelessly since then and have frequently asked Amanda about how Aiden was doing.

“I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that being a mother plays a huge part in my passion for this,” Amanda said. “I don’t want to just do this for Aiden, but for his parents as well. I want them to feel like they have people in the community that care and that want to help raise awareness.”

According to Aiden’s mother, Nicole Baseil, Aiden has been responding well to the treatment so far at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center. Assuming things continue in the right direction, Aiden would complete his maintenance therapy by April 14, 2024.

“It’s incredible they chose to help us,” Nicole said. “It’s invaluable for us. Having the community show up and offer their support has been incredible. We are so grateful with whatever help we can get. Every little bit helps.”

Butch’s Boxing and MMA Gym offers training to kids, teenagers and adults. The fundraising event will feature showcases of the gym’s kid and teen boxing programs. There will also be live boxing sparring sessions and Brazilian jiu jitsu rolling sessions. The event will also feature a meet and greet with members of the FDNY and NYPD.

The gym is located 203-18 35th Ave. in Bayside. The fundraiser is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Nov. 19.

Donations are required for entry, with $15 being the recommended amount, though people can donate more if they wish. Those who wish to donate to the cause can contribute to the fundraiser and enjoy the sparring matches that will be put on by the gym’s students.

Inquires about the event can be directed to the gym at 646-421-9749.