When third grader Alyssa Innamorato came home three years ago and told her parents that she had learned about Sunrise Day Camp in school and wanted to do something to help raise money, her mother Janie told her to take a few days and think about what she would like to do.
A few weeks later, Alyssa came to Janie and said “I want to do a carnival for Sunrise," which is the only dedicated day camp in the nation for children with cancer.
Not wanting to tell her daughter that she couldn’t do something that was clearly very important to her, the Innamorato family worked with friends and neighbors who volunteered to do everything from making the carnival games and signs to soliciting donations from local businesses to spreading the word to other families within the community.
Seven weeks later, the first carnival was a huge success and this past Saturday afternoon, the 4th Annual Old Time Neighborhood Carnival entertained local families on Birchwood Court West in Syosset.
“The Sunrise Carnival has become an annual event for my family,” said Anna Gurewicz of Jericho. “Every year they seem to go above and beyond what they accomplished the year before both with fundraising and inspiring others.”
Families attended the carnival with kids of all ages who spent the afternoon playing games, winning prizes, bouncing in the bounce house and dancing to the music played by a live DJ. If the kids were hungry, carnival treats including hot dogs, ices, snow cones and cotton candy were available. All proceeds went towards the camp.
Heather Bazarnik of Plainview attended the carnival with her 4-year-old son Jack.
“How amazing that this charity event not only benefits kids but was started by a child and run by children,” Bazarnik said.
Located minutes from the border of Nassau and Suffolk Counties in Wheatley Heights, Sunrise Day Camp is the only camp in the country dedicated not only to children with cancer but also to their siblings. It is offered free of charge, raising the needed funds from outside sources.
The carnival was supported by friends and neighbors of the Innamorato family, the Syosset community, and donations from local businesses such as , Howard Rosenthal Photography, NY Party Works and others, and even enlisted some volunteers from the Community Program. Over the past 3 years, the carnival has raised over $33,000 for Sunrise Day Camp.
For more information on Sunrise Day Camp and how to donate, please visit their website .