Keeping Their Hearts Cozy

Mara Navaretta

A Syosset realtor recently partnered with a local charitable group to honor the memory of a tragically lost youngster.

When 2-year-old Jake Matthew Staniszewski lost his battle with cancer in 2014, the toddler’s family, their friends and all who knew Jake experienced the irreparable heartbreak that comes with losing a child and local resident Ashley Wade wanted to be a part of the healing process.

The 23-year-old founded the Ashley Wade Foundation in 2012, after being diagnosed in 2010 with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 17. The foundation is a 501c3 tax-exempt, charitable organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children suffering from chronic illnesses.

In spending time with chronically ill children and battling an illness herself, Wade learned that the feeling of hopelessness was all too familiar ad that it was something no child should feel.

Pictured from left to right with Mara Navaretta and Janet Vogt at the Ashley Wade Foundation’s annual Holiday Party are Ashley Wade Foundation Founder Ashley Wade, Jake Matthew Staniszewski’s mother, Denise; his brother, Luke, and father, Mark Staniszewski.

As Jake’s cancer progressed, Wade knew that she wanted to do something special to honor him and his family. That’s when she got the idea for Jake’s Jammies.

“Most children do not want to be in hospital gowns…they want to be in comfy, fun pajamas, anything that can make their hospital stay feel more like home and give them some normalcy,” said Wade.

Wade partnered with realtor Mara Navaretta of Woodbury and her agency, Homes by Mara Realty in Syosset this past holiday season. The pajama drive took place from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20 and more than 300 pajamas were collected for Wade’s foundation.

Good Samaritan in Islip and Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola were among the hospitals that received pajamas. Additionally, some of the Jake’s Jammies pajamas will also be donated to The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island in March.

“It is with great honor and privilege that we participated in the Ashley Wade Foundation’s Jake’s Jammies pajama drive,” said Navaretta, who has an 11-year-old daughter. “Being a mother myself, I cannot help but feel great admiration for these children and their families, who continue to show such tremendous strength and courage. It is rewarding on so many levels to be able to show our support for Jake’s Jammies and what it represents.”

Upon kicking off Jake’s Jammies pajama drive, Navaretta and several of her agents got a head-start on their collection by contributing their own store bought pajamas to the drive, which was followed by an outpouring of support and donations made by the Long Island community at large.

“Our hearts are extremely grateful to Mara and Homes By Mara Realty for their generosity and compassion for our Superstars and for Jake’s Jammies,” said Wade.

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Jennifer Fauci is the senior editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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