Gabby Cava's Sweetest 16!

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Gabby Cava is a beautiful, graceful, young Harborfields student who was diagnosed with Signet Ring Cell Carcinoma in 2017.

We have been following Gabby’s journey and getting to know her and her amazing family over the past year and a half. We’ve been able to offer Gabby and her family support through Maggie’s Mission, while also building a close, personal connection with the entire Cava family.

Gabby is also one of Maggie’s Mission’s biggest fans. She follows us on social media and has posted selfies sporting “Maggie Gear” online, complete with the peace sign - a Challenge activity from our Maggie’s Challenge fundraiser. To have Gabby follow us is truly a blessing. Part of why we are here is to offer hope and healing to children, young adults and their families. We’re glad and filled with joy to be able to do that.

Gabby’s cancer is very rare and aggressive. If you would like to learn more about Gabby and follow her journey with cancer, click here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gabbycavabeatscancer

Gabby’s doctors weren’t sure if Gabby would make it to celebrate her special, milestone birthday. Through her family’s tireless dedication to finding the best doctors and treatment options and Gabby’s own personal strength, Gabby celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday, August 9th.

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In lieu of presents, Gabby selflessly asked that donations be made to Maggie’s Mission. Gabby and her parents - Dave and Audra, invited us to attend. We felt grateful and fortunate to be included. It was a spectacular, gorgeous day and evening. Gabby looked radiant and glowing in her lovely pink gown and tiara. It was magical to not only witness but also feel Gabby, her family and ourselves surrounded by people filled with hope, love and kindness.

Friends and family came from far and wide to enjoy this very special young woman’s birthday. About 200 people filled the Cava family’s yard and much fun was had. Guests brought donations and purchased some “Maggie Gear” (Merchandise) too. Well over $6,000 was raised! Amazingly, the donations are still rolling in!

Thank you Gabby for being you! We love you and have a huge respect for your family and for your kind and generous soul.

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Gabby’s family left on Sunday for a delayed and much anticipated trip to Rome, Italy, sponsored by Make-A-Wish. Gabby’s dad Dave shared this wonderful update on his Facebook page. We share it here because it illustrates the beauty and grace that is this family.

We’re pretty tired, but it’s been a great start to our trip! Rome is incredible - so much history here that you can’t help but feel very connected to humanity.

But maybe the best part was at dinner. A man was eating behind us by himself and when he finished he came up to us and said “I am from Australia, and I have worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. Never have I seen so much love at a table. You give me hope.” All we were doing was eating dinner. I didn’t know what to say and still don’t. But to anyone reading this I would say don’t feel too sorry for us. We may be poor with health but we are rich with love... and that is better.
We are blessed.
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We wish you and your family the very best on your trip to Italy. Enjoy every minute, your family deserves that and so much more. Prayers for good news on your upcoming scan in Germany. God Bless.

6693 Miles for Maggie - we are home.

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Our 17 day journey covering 6,693 miles cross country to honor Maggie’s bucket list was bittersweet. We cried on our way out, cried in between and cried going home. We’ve come to accept that this is our new norm.

Pulling into our driveway was a reminder of Maggie’s absence. Her closed curtains on her bedroom window. The bedroom where Maggie should still be. It’s the one on the right in the photo above.

Some may find this strange, but we had considered printing a life size structured photo of Maggie to put in her bedroom window. It might freak some people out, but it might also bring smiles and if she can see it, to her too. Maggie enjoyed and embraced her sense of silliness, with a tragic dose of some serious reality thrown in towards the end of her life.

This town and our home is also a reminder of her presence, as Steve pointed out shortly before we arrived home. It’s that feeling that will most likely keep us cemented here in Greenlawn, despite there being a few towns in our travels we felt we could have settled into.

During the trip, we both tried to honor and embrace her sense of fun, as some of you may have seen if you were following our posts. On our last day of driving, we recorded the intimidating trucks all around us to the tune of an old song called ‘Convoy’ and did some video editing on the fly to make the clip look vintage. We laughed. It was a wonderful distraction to what felt like an endless drive.

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We arrived home late Tuesday evening, our son Steven was happy to see us and so were our dogs - Cody and Lorie. Steven did a great job of holding down the fort while we were gone. We had invited him to come along for the trip too but he declined, saying that it might remind him of he and his dad’s fateful camping trip out west to visit some of the national parks in August, 2016. That was when Maggie first got sick and almost died from blood loss from what they thought was a burst cyst that hemorrhaged. Their trip was cut short abruptly.

There are so many triggers and emotional fallouts from her illness and death - most of them almost impossible to recover from. Memories of better times haunt us too, especially those that closely preceded her cancer.

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Today is one of those days. It’s Donna’s 53rd birthday. She was born in 1966, so many years ago. Maggie’s dying words which we’ve mentioned before ring in our heads - “Mom, you got to do so much in your life”.

It’s hard to grasp the concept that Maggie died just after her 17th birthday. If you do the math, 53 is more than three times the age Maggie was when she died. That simple math hurts.

The photo of her above was taken three years ago today on Donna’s 50th birthday while staying in an old Victorian B&B, called Tumblin Falls in the Catskill Mountains. The falls sit on the owners private property and are closed to the public. Maggie and her cousin Delia did an impromptu photo shoot there. Even though you don’t see her face, it has become one of our favorite photos. To us, it demonstrates her strength, eternal beauty, and poise.

Her boyfriend at the time didn’t appreciate the photos that she shared on her social media but that didn’t stop her. Her independence shone through always.

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It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves as we navigate life without our only daughter, but this simple sign, seen on a stop during our trip sends a positive message that no matter how sad we are, we have a purpose in this life. To fulfill not only Maggie’s bucket list but to honor her dying wish to help other children.

So far. So good.

In a little while, we will head to the post office and send another hurting family a donation. One that we hope helps them at least a little bit in their difficult journey against the awful monster of a disease that is pediatric cancer.

#MaggieGivesBack

5000+ Miles for Maggie - homeward bound.

Today marks the 16th day of our journey honoring Maggie’s bucket list road trip. We are currently driving through Indiana, just south of Chicago. Funny to be thinking we are almost home. If you have been following our trip, you’d know our first day of driving took us quite far - from New York to Wisconsin. Can we do the same today? Make it home? We hope so. We are both tired and weary of driving.

On Saturday night, July 14th, we stopped in Salt Lake City and spent a nice evening having dinner with Jason, his wife Brooke, and their children Eli and Lucy. Eli is below, eager to get closer to the peacocks which occupy the gardens surrounding the remote restaurant. Taggart’s Grill is nestled in a picturesque high desert canyon in scenic Morgan, Utah, along the Weber River. While waiting for our table, we skipped rocks and watched a hummingbird flitting over the river catching bugs.

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If you can read the sign next to Eli, it states that the area is closed due to the high presence of rattlesnakes. Yikes!

The Lynch family are Mormons, and Sunday is Temple day, so we got an early start and hit the road again - driving through the Rocky Mountains, then onto the flat landscape that is Nebraska.

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There were ominous clouds on the horizon while driving through parts of Nebraska, which although scary, were exciting to see from a distance. These formations didn’t appear to turn into anything more than rain. While it would have been kind of cool to see a tornado, we realize the dangers they represent.

On Sunday night, we stayed in another Airbnb in Omaha, Nebraska. It was in a dicey area but we stayed safe and considered it just a bed for the night. In the morning, we went for a quick run around the somewhat rundown neighborhood and headed out on the road once more.

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Steve took this interesting photo of the expansive and somewhat monotonous landscape we drove through.

Monday’s drive was short to Frankfort, Illinois, with a plan to spend the night in yet another Airbnb. Part of Frankfort included a pretty, historic, and charming downtown. We stopped into a really nice guitar shop - Down Home Guitars, looking at their expansive collection of eclectic instruments. After talking with Steve, co-owner of the shop, we found we had just missed the town’s annual Bluegrass Festival. Too bad.

We shared our story with Steve about our loss of Maggie, the foundation we started, the instruments he sells, and Maggie’s and our connection with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Afterwards, we ate at a nice Mexican Restaurant and then headed to our digs for the night, which consisted of a private bedroom in a pretty, suburban neighborhood a few blocks from the historic district in Frankfort, IL.

Staying in an Airbnb can be strange in that you are, at times, literally occupying space in a strangers house. When your host is home, it can be uncomfortable. Luckily, our hosts were hospitable and friendly. Their place was beautiful and our stay was more luxurious than any hotel we could afford.

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The views were dreamy too. Maggie would have approved. While Maggie could rough it with the best, she also appreciated luxury. Don’t we all?

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It was raining when we awoke and despite our talk of fitting in a run, we decided against it and hit the road by 8:00 am.

The GPS is telling us we will be home by 10:10 pm tonight. Hoping that’s accurate and the rest of our drive is smooth and our bladders behave.

We realize though that the road can be unpredictable, much like our lives.

5000 Miles for Maggie - Atlantic to the Pacific!

For the record, with our reroute to head further west to the Pacific, it looks like our trip might be closer to 6,000 miles or more for Maggie.

After meeting with our friend Jessica, her son Beau and their friend Ian in Spokane, we headed to Snoqualmie Pass - a rather quiet town sandwiched in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State and not unlike a rather bizarre TV show we’ve watched called Twin Peaks. There were real life characters and plots that would have fit right in with that show.

The scenery was spectacular despite the eery fog and dense clouds that surrounded the mountain tops. We slept at an Airbnb we happened upon and spent two interesting evenings there. The first night in a very cozy bed on an outside deck. Surprisingly, the sleep was restorative. Sleep doesn’t always come easy, but it did that night.

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Rufous hummingbirds were buzzing all around when we awoke. Donna has always held these birds in high regard, so it was special seeing them in such large numbers, sipping home-made fresh nectar from the multiple feeders that hung around the deck. Below is a male Rufous, with another bird in the background coming in for a feed, and possibly a fight, because hummingbirds are highly territorial.

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While staying there, we learned very serendipitously that a town - Roslyn, Washington, where the show Northern Exposure was filmed was just a 1/2 hour drive away. Our Maggie was named after the strong, independent, and capable female bush pilot from the TV series. The name certainly fit, as Maggie held all of those qualities. How odd that we would happen upon this area? The location of the series was really supposed to be in a small Alaskan Town called Cicely. Maggie also had ‘See the Northern lights’ on her bucket list, as well as ‘experiencing a full day of night’. Alaska was her chosen location to experience both. We were told that the Airbnb we stayed in was also known to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from time to time.

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The Pacific Crest Trail cuts through Snoqualmie Pass. We did a short 5 mile hike on the trail and met some thru hikers at a local eatery named the Aardvark Café - basically a trailer and tent outside to sit down and eat, alongside route 906. We chatted with them about their travels and were interested to hear their trail names which all thru hikers seem to acquire. I copy and paste a bit of information about the “PCT” as it is called here. The trail is 2,650 miles and it generally takes the entire snow-free season to walk. That's about 5 months. Elite athletes who are experienced on the PCT have finished the trail in as little as two months. Steve hiked a large section, approximately 500 or 600 miles of the trail, in 1993 - way before starting our family.

This trip, with very little planning, apart from seeing the Peak to Sky music festival in Big Sky, Montana, has held lots of coincidences and interesting connections to Maggie, our family and our past.

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The PCT hikers above have an arduous journey ahead of them. Our bucket list road trip for Maggie seems easy comparatively speaking. But, living the rest of our lives without our only daughter Maggie is an entirely different arduous journey and for us, feels like a harder one.

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Yesterday, we finally arrived at the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t easy making it there, adding on a huge loop of driving on slow roads. We know nothing about the coastline of the West, but knew we wanted to release some of Maggie’s ashes there. Finally, in the late afternoon, we found an expansive beach that felt fitting for Maggie.

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After leaving the coastline, we turned around and started to head back East. We contemplated stopping in Portland but other forces compelled us to drive further west to Hood River in Oregon. Hood River is filled with adventure seeking people and multiple opportunities for outdoor activities. Today, we did a 30 mile bike ride along the Columbia River Gorge. It was challenging but just enough to work out the kinks from so many hours of driving.

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Tomorrows miles should lead us to Salt Lake City in Utah, where we will meet up with Jason Lynch and his family. Jason is an elite runner who we have hosted twice in our home for the Cow Harbor 10k in Northport, NY. We wish he had gotten to meet Maggie, but she died before we ever met him. Jason has been following our story and Maggie’s Mission, including this bucket list road trip. He reached out to us and we are excited to see him and meet his family.

5000 Miles for Maggie - Montana's Big Sky and everything Maggie is missing.

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This was Maggie a few weeks before she died. She had just gotten out of Stony Brook Hospital to help manage the dehydration and severe pain she was experiencing. As soon as we arrived at the Stony Brook ER, the nurses used a pain medication to spray up her nose. That seemed to help her greatly. They also upped the meds she had been getting via her double lumen port and bag she carried around for the last few months of life. One bag held fluids, one held pain meds. She came home calm and wanting to have company for the first time in a long time. We suppose she felt her time here was coming to an end.

In this photo which some of you have seen before, she is holding baby Alexa, born just 12 days earlier. Alexa brought Maggie a peace none of us could provide. These images are haunting. As her parents, we can almost see into her thoughts. It feels as if she was contemplating her own death and everything she would never get to do, like having children and so much more. Maggie loved babies and children. Despite watching our only daughter slowly die, it’s hard imagining what she must have felt like.

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You have all read Maggie’s bucket list by now, this trip is meant to honor her list. After she died, family and friends got together and did a clothing drive for a local homeless shelter. Maggie would have been proud. This road trip across the US was one we felt we could do now.

The Peak to Sky Music Festival was always our ultimate goal. Some members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers were there, amongst many other talented and well known musicians. Josh Klinghoffer and the band met Maggie during their Get Away tour in Madison Square Garden in NYC. The band invited her to any concert she could attend on the tour and sought to connect with her after the meeting, inviting her back the next night. We couldn’t go as we had other plans to ‘get away’. The song “Don’t Forget Me” was sung by Anthony Kiedis and dedicated to Maggie. Maggie got to see the band two more times in Florida while she was very sick. In fact, she had already been told she wouldn’t survive long. But Maggie was strong! She exhibited incredible determination making it to these two shows.

Josh Klinghoffer visited our home on Long Island. We shared dinner. He also took Maggie out for ice cream after dinner. Maggie explained to Josh that she was dying and told him she worried about us all after she was gone. She was right to worry. Living without her has proven to be something akin to a living nightmare - one from which you never awake.

When Maggie died, Josh was present for the wake and funeral. He has been like a guardian angel to our family. In fact, the entire band has been extraordinary.

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On the way to Big Sky, we stopped along the Gallatin River to release some of Maggie’s ashes. We cried and prayed. Praying that she is somehow with us and that we will see her again. Maggie Schmidt forever…

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Josh, always the gentleman and friend, had some time before the concert to reach out and spend some quality time with us. It is healing to be with friends and family who knew her and to share our love of Maggie. Those connections are like a lifeline for us.

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The concert and evening in Big Sky was a blast! Legendary artists gathered to perform classic covers.

Music is healing. Nature too.

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The day after the concert, we took a day trip from Bozeman, MT (where we have been staying in the Airbnb RV affectionately named “Harvey” to Yellowstone National Park. The park was crowded on what must have been one of the busiest summer weekends. Thankfully, we found a knowledgable young Ranger in the visitor center who directed us off the beaten path to a quiet trail that led to a spectacular waterfall. We ran 3 miles in on what was a mostly flat trail, then descended down into a gorge to the waterfall.

Altogether the hike was over 9 miles. It was challenging but breath taking. We hadn’t planned ahead and brought very little water and nothing to eat. However, the weather was kind to us and we arrived back to our car tired and contented.

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Today, we are heading out to extend our trip. Technically, Maggie’s bucket list included “to drive cross country in a car.” We’ve come to feel it wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Pacific Ocean.

Our trip has been financed with the money Steve earns as a teacher, as well as Donna’s savings from the money she earns as a freelance graphic designer.

We have met old friends and some new on this trip. Donna belongs to Facebook Bereavement groups online. It helps her to connect with others. Jessica Breeze is one of those moms. She lives in Spokane, WA. Jessica’s daughter, Caitlin, was killed by a boater (Dennis Magner) who had been drinking all day and lied about being the driver that day on Lake Coeur d’Alene in 2016. Two of Caitlin’s friends Justin Honken and Justin Luhr were also killed. It is an awful story and hard to comprehend truly unless you have been through it. Tonight, we arrive in Spokane where we will meet Jessica and share memories and stories of our beautiful daughters and journeys.

There will be tears. How can there not be? We’ve lost something so precious to all of us. Our child.

5000 Miles for Maggie - we made it!

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Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore National Monument was our ultimate goal for this segment of the trip.

Driving on I90, we stopped at a unique and welcoming rest stop between exits 263 and 265. Complete with an interpretive center, featuring displays and information about the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1803 - 1806, which took the explorers through what is now South Dakota. We have always been interested and intrigued by their story and history since Steve read the book “Undaunted Courage“ by Stephen Ambrose. The rest stop is situated on a bluff, overlooking the Missouri River. Lewis & Clark and their dog Seaman (a Newfoundland) camped here on their long journey. According to the journal entries, the dog was overheated and Lewis brought Seaman down to the river to cool off. Miraculously, the dog accompanied them on their entire journey, and was the only animal to complete the trip. You can read more about Seaman’s incredible story here. And of course, check out the book to read of the entire expedition.

Above is a 50 foot steel statue of a Native American woman located at the interpretive center, sculpted by Dale Lamphere. It was built to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people. Her name is Dignity of Earth and Sky.

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We intended to drive into and through the Badlands National Park. Unfortunately, there were severe thunderstorms which forced us to change our plans. But not before we got a glimpse into the rugged, natural beauty of the area.

To our surprise, just outside the entrance to the park, there was an original Prairie homestead belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown, consisting of 160 acres. It was another historic reminder of the prairies past. Period clothes were available to borrow for photo ops. Since we had our Laura Ingalls dress and bonnet already, Steve borrowed some overalls and hat and together we had fun pretending to be homesteaders. Here are some shots from that day.

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Prairie dogs covered the property with their burrows and were barking at us to stay away from their pups which were everywhere. This sweet little guy appeared to have a problem with his paw.

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Mt. Rushmore National monument, located near Rapid City, South Dakota was socked in with rain and storms, so we had to skip seeing it. Our night in Rapid City wasn’t as pleasant a stay and we decided to get an early start and head out on the road again with our sights set on Montana.

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The drive was beautiful, with expansive skies filled with storms and cloud formations unlike anything we see on Long Island.

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Our original intention was to sleep in our car but thus far, that hasn’t happened. We are new to Airbnb and are thankful we found the service. It’s easy to book a stay and the hosts have been wonderful. Airbnbs are generally less expensive than hotels. “Harvey” the RV has been our home away from home for the last two nights. Mitch, our host, has been kind, excellent and accommodating. We spent July 4th (one of Maggie’s favorite holidays and usually spent at the Jersey Shore) in downtown Bozeman Montana with him. Live country music played and Mitch, Steve and I danced and had a fun time. Exhausted from our travels, we settled down early, completely missing even a single firework.

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Bozeman is beautiful! Big sky vistas, wilderness and nature abound, with endless nature trails to take it all in. Steve and I went for a run in the morning on some of these trails, which literally start from the property we are staying on, followed by a 15 mile mountain bike ride courtesy of Mitch, our host and guide of Bozeman. It was spectacular.

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We ended last night with a beautiful sunset on top of “Pete’s Hill” accessible via the trail from the RV. The picture above doesn’t do the sunset justice. It’s been a long time since I picked up my camera. I just haven’t had the heart to use it since Maggie got sick and died. I brought it on this trip. I had to. What’s a trip like this without photographic memories? I aim to fine tune my sunset and sunrise photography skills after last night’s failed attempt to capture what was one of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen. Maggie would have loved being here.

Today, we will be off to see the Peak to Sky music festival in Big Sky, Montana. Looking forward to a great lineup of musicians and to see Josh Klinghoffer and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Josh and the band are generous, compassionate people who have supported Maggie, our family and our foundation.


5000 Miles for Maggie - it's a beautiful country.

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We found her list after she died. We believe it was written before she got sick. We wish she was here to ask her that question for so many obvious reasons but she isn’t. When we found it, we felt inspired to cross off at least some or all of her bucket list items. This is her road trip.

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After getting a late start on Sunday, June 30th, leaving at 9:30 from our home in Greenlawn, NY, we had a loose goal of making it somewhere near the area of Chicago. However, when a friend reached out via social media from Wisconsin offering us a place to stay, we pushed on through 1,100 miles of driving to end up near Marshfield, Wisconsin at around 2:15 a.m. central time. A tiring journey but nothing akin to Maggie’s journey with cancer.

We stayed two nights and are thankful for their friendship. It was nice to stay with people who had actually knew Maggie and whom Maggie liked.

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Despite not having a solid plan, things seem to be falling into place, perhaps Maggie is guiding us in some way. We’d like to believe she is. We visited the birthplace of Laura Ingalls in Pepin, Wisconsin. As a family, we would watch ‘Little House’ together. Maggie was enchanted with the show and the glimpse into the lives of another family living life so differently in a bygone era.

On our way to Laura’s birth place, we travelled a beautiful and remote backcountry road. We came across the majestic bald eagle shown above.

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When Maggie was younger, probably the same age as Laura Ingalls in the early days of the TV show, she asked me for a time period dress. We got one on Etsy in time for Christmas. In that dress, Maggie volunteered with the local Historical Association at Gardiner’s Farm in Greenlawn. Gardiner’s Farm was built in the 1750s, over 100 years before Laura Ingalls was even born! Born in 1867, Laura lived to the ripe old age of 90.

Maggie and mom hosted local school classes at Gardiner’s Farm. Maggie taught the children about what farm life was like, what children back then used as toys, and what they did for entertainment.

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At the museum, we purchased a historical dress and bonnet. Donna modeled it today on our trip for fun, as well as to honor and embrace Maggie’s spirit.

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Our stop for the night was in Renner, South Dakota in an adorable Airbnb cabin hosted by Pamela Hoffman. We are 15 minutes from Sioux Falls, SD. The view here is beautiful, with farmland as far as the eye can see.

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We’ve logged around 1700 miles driving so far. Today, we set off for the Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore National Monument. Stay tuned for updates and more photos! Thanks for supporting us on this bittersweet road trip and our difficult journey without her. We miss you Maggie Schmidt.

Jack & Ben's Lemonade Stand for Maggie's Mission

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Jack & Ben’s lemonade stand raises nearly $1500 for children fighting cancer!

Neighborhood friends and family came together on what was a beautiful summer day to celebrate not only Jack’s birthday, but also their graduation from TJL elementary school in Harborfields.

Maggie’s Mission is grateful for the support of our community and would like to personally thank the Cammarota family for coordinating this event. Your support helps provide money for much needed research to find cures and offer financial assistance to Long Island families affected by childhood cancer.

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Above is the Maldonado family, who also happen to be our close neighbors. Ashley is behind the “GO GOLD” sign, Sam is on the left holding his sign backwards, while Henry is on the right holding his “GIVE BACK” sign upside down. Their wonderful Dad, Mark, is in the middle.

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Ben laid down some tracks for guests while snacks, lemonade, and official Maggie Gear was sold. There was dancing, games, and more!

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Harborfields High School students also made a special appearance.

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All in all, it was a great day to celebrate and come together for fundraising and some real “Cammaroterie”! Get it?

#TeamGabby comes home!

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Welcome home Gabby, Audra and Dave Cava of #TeamGabby!

You’ve been through quite the tough journey down in Chapel Hill, NC and we are so happy to be able to provide assistance in your safe and hopefully smooth journey home.

For those who may not know, Gabby is 15 and is a local Harborfields High School girl like Maggie. Gabby was diagnosed with metastatic signet ring cell carcinoma in 2018 and has been undergoing chemo and surgery for the aggressive cancer ever since.

Gabby was intended to be our guest of honor at Maggie’s Mission Angelversary Gala in Montauk but Gabby needed more time in NC to recuperate. We were thankful and pleased that some of Gabby’s family members were able to attend the Gala - and by the looks of it, they had a good time! xoxoxo

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After a period of 7 weeks, Gabby and her family have finally been able to return home from Gabby’s major HIPEC surgery done by Dr. Hayes Jordan at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, NC. It was a lifesaving procedure. You can read more about Gabby and her family’s journey with cancer here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gabbycavabeatscancer

Maggie’s Mission knows the difficulties of traveling with a sick child and offered to help get Gabby, Audra and Dave back home by coordinating a private jet to a local Long Island airport today - June 11, 2019. Maggie’s uncle paid for their “Rockstar” limo service as they called it to the airport in NC and we paid for the fuel and pilots to get them the rest of the way. The jet itself was generously donated by Pete Ferrandino, a family friend to Maggie’s Mission.

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Part of the money Maggie’s Mission raises from our events like the Gala are meant to fund special experiences like this and to make life easier on pediactric cancer patients and their families. Having gone through this ourselves, we know what it is like and have great empathy for those going through it. Thank you all for helping us help others.

Gabby’s mom Audra writes…

The less glamorous side - Gabby doesn’t have to go through security in a wheel chair.

How would we have gotten all these medical supplies and Gabby’s new shower chair, aka plastic lawn chair, home without filling the entire cargo area and extra plane seats if this wasn’t a private jet? Answer: we would have had to spend hours culling and shipping. Thank you Maggie’s Mission!
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These are things no one thinks of, but yet doing something like this can really make a difference. We are glad to help.

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WELCOME HOME TO GABBY AND THE CAVA FAMILY! Maggie’s Mission is proud to be a part of your journey, your lives and our community - a community of people coming together to help others!

#maggiegivesback

Maggie's Mission Angelversary Gala 2019

On Friday, May 31st, 2019, over 240 people came together to celebrate Maggie’s life in a place Maggie loved - Montauk, NY. Together we raised $83,000! This event is aptly named Maggie’s Mission Angelversary Gala because it is held close to the day Maggie left us - June 1, 2017. On April 19th, Maggie would have turned 19. We love and miss her with everything we are and continue to honor her dying wish to help save other children.

The setting could not have been nicer. Held at Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café on the waters of Lake Montauk, guests were treated to a beautiful evening under the stars and grand tent space filled with amazing food by Events by Peter Ambrose, great music by Anthony Cacioppo, professional photography by Christopher Appoldt, elegant floral arrangements by Sag Harbor Florist, and custom chocolate moussé cake by Sag Harbor Baking Co.

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Angels walked around selling raffle tickets, sporting custom gold pediatric cancer ribbon tattoos donated by Tattly and angel wings. It was an uplifting event, meant to inspire hope to those suffering.

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Gabby Cava, a Maggie’s Mission friend and local Harborfield’s High School student was intended to be our guest of honor for the evening but unfortunately, Gabby was in North Carolina still recuperating from extensive surgery to remove the signet ring cell carcinoma that had spread throughout her abdomen. We were so pleased that Gabby’s older sister Marianna, Gabby’s Grandmother, Grandfather and Step Grandmother were able to attend. They even walked away with a few winning raffle baskets. Marianna briefly took the mike and spoke about her younger sister Gabby and we were able to face time with her during the event. We wish Gabby a quick recovery and are hopeful Gabby and her Mom and Dad get to come home soon after spending over six weeks in the hospital.

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This event would not have been possible were it not for the help of Michelle DeSousa, a Maggie’s Mission Board member who dove head first into planning this event with Maggie’s mom so it would be as successful as can be. That included planning the event, garnering donations, to working herself silly the night of the event. We are so happy and proud to call her our sister-in-law, dedicated Board Member, Aunt to Maggie Schmidt, and huge support to Maggie’s Mission. The sign she is holding “GIVE BACK” never meant more. Thank you Michelle!

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Dr. Alex Kentsis, who is working on the Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor project at Memorial Sloan Kettering gave a brief speech which provided an update on the research we are funding at MSK Kids to find answers that will lead to cures on the rare and aggressive disease that stole Maggie’s life. A disease that mainly affects babies and young children.

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Maggie’s brother Steven spoke about who Maggie was, how much we miss her and about her dying wish to save other children. He introduced Maggie’s boyfriend Mathew Polcer who was a tremendous, loving source of support during her illness. Matt sung a song titled “Angel Rays” by Trevor Hall for Maggie while a tribute video of Maggie’s life was displayed in the background.

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Guests were treated to specialty cocktail drinks, locally sourced oysters, lobster rolls, champagne, Long Island wines and more! While most arrived by car, there were a few who came by boat! The boat above proudly displays the Maggie’s Mission logo. Word is getting around in all ways possible about the wonderful and exciting work we are doing!

Please take some time to view our tribute video to Maggie and her life. Maggie’s Mission is proud to carry on her wonderful spirit and dying wish to help other children. We love you Maggie and miss you more and more each day!

Special thanks to all of our gold sponsors, Structure Tek, Marine Bulkheading, Charles & Helen Reichert Family Foundation, New York Community Bank, Triad Metals, American Capital Partners, Inc., and JD Fields & Company, Inc.

We appreciate our Board of Directors, our family and every single volunteer and merchant who donated their time, services, and more. We couldn’t have done this event without all of you!

Valet parking services donated by Unique Parking. All wines & prosecco donated by Cellier Wines Distributing Inc. Beer donated by Montauk Brewery. Rum donated by Diplomatica Rum. Vodka donated by Sagg Pond Distillery. Whiskey donated by Montauk Hard Label. Tequila donated by Casamigos Tequila. Palm trees donated by Island Wide Palm Trees. Event banners provided by Evan Schulman of Display Design & Development Corp.

The photos from Maggie's Mission Gala are up for you in an online Gallery! You can download one or all of the images at no cost, and even order prints you might like at wholesale prices - they'll be delivered to your doorstep in the mail. Please note this link will only be active until September 3, 2019.

The link to the Gallery is: https://www.christopherappoldt.com/p370271090 the password is maggie, all lower case.

#maggiegivesback