UPPER PROVIDENCE >> A 6-year-old Red Hill girl battling stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma will be the princess of a party in her honor Sunday at St. Michael’s picnic grounds in Mont Clare.
The A-Team, a nonprofit charity headed by C.J. Santangelo, will host “Lilypalooza” to help raise funds for Lilyanna “Lily” Pagnotta and her family.
“After meeting her, I don’t think she understands the magnitude of what she is up against, but we do,” Santangelo said. “Her innocence comes out … her spirit and her character. She is excited about having this party. She thinks it’s a celebration of her being done chemo.”
Rocky Pagnotta, Lily’s father, works at Jaydor in Norristown with Warren Birch, one of the A-Team’s captains. Despite Birch’s heavy involvement with the A-Team, he had never asked for anything in return before he sheepishly approached Santangelo about the Pagnottas.
“I always have an ear for those who have been involved that have someone we may be able to help,” Santangelo said.
In the early summer, when Birch approached him, Santangelo’s wife had recently beaten breast cancer, and the A-Team had just finished a benefit for prostate cancer. However, Santangelo did see a small window during which an event for Lily was feasible, despite the difficulty of summer scheduling.
The subject of cancer is personal to Santangelo in many ways. His father died of thyroid cancer within a year of his diagnosis.
“He told me not to give up the war. This is just one battle. I like to feel that this keeps his memory alive,” Santangelo said.
Through the many events the A-Team has hosted and his involvement with various organizations, Santanglo has seen the burden childhood cancer puts on a family both financially and emotionally.
In January, Lily woke up with a lump on her neck, and in May was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She is a big sister to Emalyn, 4, and Dominic, 20 months-old. Lily enjoys arts, crafts, butterflies, princesses, and coloring.
“This whole experience and meeting with the A-Team has opened my eyes,” Rocky Pagnotta said. “It’s awe-inspiring and pretty moving to see how it all came together and the groundswell of support. It’s been humbling and inspiring.”
Lilypallooza will be catered by Bridgeport Rib House and feature three moon bounces, face-painting, balloon characters, basket raffles, real life princesses, live bands, Club Lilly Lu, a DJ, bubbles and a fireworks closing.
For tickets or to make a donation visit www.herewecome.org, or checks may be made payable to The A-Team of Skippack 111 (in care of Lily) and mailed to The A-Team, 104 G.P. Clement Drive, Collegeville, PA 19426.