Farm-raised

Salisbury corn maze raises $5K for NEHA assistance program

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Salisbury Farm in Johnston recently donated $5,200 to the New England Hemophilia Association after raising money through corn maze sales last October.

This is the third year that Salisbury Farm has run a themed corn maze fundraiser. The effort benefited Boston Strong and the Rhode Island Hospital cancer center, respectively, during the previous two years.

This past year, NEHA Executive Director Rich Pezzillo was talking with social worker Ginny Cerbo, who works at the center, about starting the conversation with Salisbury Farm for a partnership.

They spoke with owner Wayne Salisbury, and the seeds for a relationship were planted.

“We talked to him about bleeding disorders and the work that NEHA does, and he was interested because he didn’t know much about bleeding disorders,” Pezzillo said. “He decided with his family it would be a great cause to raise awareness for.”

Salisbury Farm raised more than $5,000 through ticket sales to the corn maze, which viewed aerially featured an outline of the six New England states and the phrase, “Unite for bleeding disorders.”

With March being Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month, the Salisburys presented a check for the funds raised to members of the hemophilia community at the Rhode Island Hemostasis and Thrombosis Center on March 13. Hemophilia, a clotting disorder, affects about 20,000 people in the United States and 400,000 worldwide, according to the National Hemophilia Foundation.

Pezzillo said 100 percent of the donation will go toward the Emergency Assistance Program, which helps those with bleeding disorders and their families pay certain bills or subsidize other costs. The EAP has been a vital function of NEHA since its foundation in 1957, Pezzillo said, and it has given back more than $25,000 in the past few years.

Those interested apply through their health care provider and treatment center, and they can be eligible for up to $500 in assistance per calendar year. Pezzillo said just the other day, they cut a check for an oil bill, and other cases have seen funds go toward building a ramp and taking care of hotel expenses while patients have surgeries in nearby hospitals.

It’s an important program for those whose treatment can cost an average up to $250,000 a year.

“That is the hallmark of what we do,” Pezzillo said. “It does not cover premiums or any medical expenses, but it does help with their elements of living life, and then having a chronic condition.”

Dylan Holland, a child with severe hemophilia from Burrillville, cut the ribbon on the corn maze back in October. Pezzillo said the funds were important, but it was equally crucial to raise awareness for conditions like hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s disease.

The maze featured 15 facts about hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, and Pezzillo was pleased with the effectiveness of spreading the word at the local level.

“The funds that were raised were essential to help those in need, but the awareness of the amount of people – over 25,000 people went through the corn maze, they saw the design, ‘Unite for Bleeding Disorders,’ and saw the information about NEHA,” Pezzillo said. “So often it’s cancer and diabetes and other conditions that are talked about in the news, but bleeding disorders and hemophilia are often forgotten about.”

Pezzillo said the Salisbury partnership was “one of the most important things that the organization has ever done.” He said he has already started reaching out to farms in the five other New England states for similar fundraisers.

“To raise awareness like this to this amount of people is essential to ensure those living with bleeding disorders know that they have a community and for the community to know that they’re not forgotten about,” Pezzillo said.

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