Block parties have their place, but the Naperville Moms Network threw its own party recently which attracted more than just the people down the street.
The third annual Back to School BBQ held at the Naperville Grand Pavilion provided an opportunity for community members to enjoy an outdoor get-together which included free food, a DJ, a bounce house, games and crafts for kids as well as serving as a fundraiser for a special boy.
Cathy Subber, who is a founding sponsor of Naperville Moms Network, said that each year, a special charity is selected for a fundraising effort and this year, money raised would be targeted for a one-day room makeover for 3-year-old Noah Galloy of Plainfield, who is battling a life-threatening illness.
“Noah was selected by the Chicago branch of ‘Special Spaces,’ an organization that provides room makeovers for kids in order to give them a more comfortable place to be,” Subber said. “We’re raising money through a raffle for a 40-inch flat screen TV that was donated by Grant Appliance and also an iPad Mini that my chiropractic practice donated.”
Noah’s mother Jenn Malloy said that she learned about six weeks ago that her son had been selected by the Special Spaces group and that both of her children, which includes Noah and 11-year-old Brayden, were each born with an immune deficiency that makes them vulnerable to bacterial infections.
“This is a condition doctors have not seen in the U.S. and there aren’t any other cases they know of someone being diagnosed with it,” Malloy said. “Both my sons have it, but Brayden, so far, hasn’t been affected. Noah had a stem cell transplant this past February and it appears he’s going to need another because there has been a rejection.”
Subber said the event has grown from the initial year, when it attracted about 250 people, to 400 to 500 last year.
“Our goal is to continue to expand, but the ultimate purpose is to provide a free event for local families to connect with one another and enjoy a great day,” she said. “We’re going to need about $3,000 for the makeover, and we’re hoping with our raffles and any money left that we’ll get there.”
A total of 34 sponsors helped out this year, representing everything from local hospitals and banks to a variety of local eateries and catering services. Subber noted the early arriving crowd was bigger than she had seen before.
“We’ve got a good crowd here,” Subber said as she looked at the line of folks queuing up for lunch over the weekend. “The numbers already are higher than we expected.”
Those joining the BBQ event said they were looking for everything from a way to learn more about the community and some of its services to just letting their kids enjoy a fun afternoon.
“I went to this event a year ago and now I’m back again with my son Sammy, who is 4,” said Naperville resident Kelly Gunderson. “This is a great way to network with other moms and I think this event gets bigger and better every year. My son loves to eat and he likes to dance, so he’s excited about the DJ.”
Anna Maitland of Naperville brought her three children who are 7, 5 and 1-year-old to the event. The kids, she said, were looking forward to the jumping castle, while she was looking to just mingle with others in the community.
“I like the community aspect of this and I also think it’s just a way to meet new people,” Maitland said.
Cliff Haines of Naperville said his girlfriend brought him along on Saturday and that the event “was just a great way to spend a fall weekend.”
“I mean, the weather is great and I am looking to meet Cathy Subber since she’s going to be my chiropractor,” Haines said. “This is the nicest fall weekend we’ve had, so why not come out and enjoy it?”