By Maddy Vitale
Hailey Parker was a little girl who loved to dance. She loved ice cream. She loved amusement rides. Above all, she loved her family and friends.
In 2015, after a courageous fight, she lost her battle with brain cancer at age 11.
Those dear to her, and even hundreds of others who didn’t even know her, will celebrate her life and her strength and hope to make a difference for others who suffer from pediatric cancer during “Dancing For Hailey,” a block party with music, food and demonstrations to raise money for pediatric cancer.
The fundraiser, in its fourth year, will be held Saturday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Eighth Street between Ocean and Wesley avenues in front of The Dance Place, 618 East Eighth Street in Ocean City.
“Dancing For Hailey” was created by Hailey’s mother, Kim Parker, of Newtown Square, Pa., and Dana Linthicum, of Ocean City, who is the chairwoman of the event committee.
Proceeds will go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research into new treatments and cures for all children battling cancer.
“It is a super fun day to celebrate all the things that Hailey loved,” Linthicum said. “She loved her family. She loved ice cream and dancing and being with her friends. She loved the rides and being outside in the sunshine. What could be more fun?”
During the fundraiser, there will be a dance party with a DJ, frozen treats, a silent auction of goods and services, face painting, pizza, snow cones, and other goodies donated by local businesses. An array of merchant tables with cool items for purchase from jewelry to custom made T-shirts will also line the streets.
Members of the Ocean City Fire Department will give demonstrations and the Ocean City Nor’easters soccer team will add excitement to the event. Afterwards, anyone who purchases wrist bracelets will receive one hour of free rides at Playland’s Castaway Cove from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Over the last three years, the “Dancing For Hailey” events have raised more than $52,000. And like years past, local businesses and homes in Ocean City raise funds over the Memorial Day weekend in partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stands for Hailey’s event.
Over Memorial Day weekend, stands were set up at locations throughout the resort. Acme at Eighth Street, Randazzo’s Family Restaurant at 34th Street, Local Gym on Asbury Avenue and a host of residents shared in the generous activity to raise money for Hailey’s event.
Linthicum said close to $2,000 was raised this year from the lemonade stands, and the number was growing Sunday afternoon.
“Every dollar makes a difference. I don’t like to put a financial goal because any money we raise is greatly appreciated,” she said. “If we hit certain goals, that is great.”
Linthicum said the fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without the help of about 13 other volunteers on the committee. She also said there is an outpouring of assistance by the community.
“Tons of people help out the day of the event,” Linthicum stressed. “Altogether, there are a lot of people working on it and contribute their time.”
Kim Parker, who is married and has a young son, and Linthicum, a married mother of two young girls, met in Ocean City as summer residents when they were young girls. They remained close.
While Hailey lived in Newtown Square, Pa., she loved Ocean City and visited her grandparents in the resort every summer.
Parker remarked, with a tear in her eye during the block party in her daughter’s honor last year, that it truly touched her how the community showed such compassion and generosity to help keep Hailey’s memory alive and contribute to a cause for children battling cancer.
Even as Hailey was fighting for her own life, she raised $527 with friends and cousins at front yard lemonade stands and gave the funds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
By holding the fundraiser, it is a way to carry on what Hailey started, spreading awareness of the need to donate to causes for childhood cancer research.
This year, however, Parker also wants some of the money from the June fundraiser to go to an adult.
Joy Geller, an Ocean City married mother of young children, who is battling breast cancer, will receive some of the proceeds.
“Kim (Parker) wanted to make a donation to her,” Linthicum said. “The Gellers have always been big supporters of this event and so, at Kim’s request, we will be giving to Joy’s GoFundMe page as Joy fights her fight.”
For more information, email DancingForHailey@gmail.com or visit the “Fight Like Hail” Facebook page in Hailey Parker’s honor or www.alexslemonade.org.