Children at hundreds of schools and businesses across Connecticut traded their usual clothes for pajamas Friday to help raise money for children battling cancer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
It’s all part of the eighth annual PJ Day for the Kids.
Everyone who participates donates at least $1 and the proceeds benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Staff there said the money is used toward helping cancer families in need, the clinical research program and the clinical care program.
The day was inspired by Charlotte Wesoloskie of Coventry. She was diagnosed with cancer at just 21 days old.
When her brother Nick was in second grade, and Charlotte was cancer-free, he wanted to do something to help the other kids still receiving treatment at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
“We threw around a couple of ideas and when we landed on pajamas he said ‘Yes, that. Because she had to wear her pajamas like forever.’ And he said, ‘We should wear our pajamas one day a year to support kids here who have no choice,’” said mom Tara Wesoloskie, who organizes PJ Day for the Kids.
Wesoloskie is also a nurse at Connecticut Children’s. In year one, they raised about $500 at Coventry Grammar School, she said. Since then, it’s grown exponentially. Last year they raised close to $200,000. There are more than 300 schools taking part along with countless businesses including more than 130 Dunkin’ Donuts locations, Aetna and more.
The day is even recognized by the State of Connecticut.
“These are real children with real names who come here and we are able to see the impact for them,” Wesoloskie said.
Students at East Lyme Public Schools are among the thousands of kids who took part.
“It feels pretty great to know you’re a little part of it,” said eighth grader Chloe Vaglio. “Even though you’re just one person you can help more than one person who’s fighting.”
Superintendent Jeffrey Newton said the district raised close to $4,000 in the schools, alone. That number does not include donations families could have made online.
Students are happy being cozy for the day can make a difference.
“It makes you feel good inside that you are just helping people in need,” said eighth grader Carter Bonura.