Niagara Gazette — Damarius Shine is only 4-years-old and he doesn’t look like a tough guy, but he’s already beat back cancer.
It wasn’t easy. He had six months of radiation and six months of chemotherapy to remove a tumor in his brain. But family and friends say he still keeps smiling. And that his face lights up when you give him a high five.
Most everyone can understand how tough those treatments can be for a grownup, let alone a kid who hasn’t even started kindergarten. Some days his mom, Samantha McGriggs, would use her last dollar to buy him a doughnut to ease the physical challenges of his treatments.
Like many dealing with catastrophic illness, the family’s finances have crashed. And his mom’s marriage didn’t survive the crisis. But as friends gather to help the family on Saturday, McGriggs is hoping to soon be able to help others — with a foundation to assist those facing similar circumstances alone.
“We went through a lot of struggles,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of support and I have two other children so there’d be times when Damarius had to go to the hospital and I had to pay someone to baby sit.
“If a family is dealing with cancer we want them to know they can reach out to us and we will help them.”
Carol Poole, a supportive services coordinator for the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, has been counseling Samantha through Damarius’ illness and is impressed with her efforts. “Through it all, she just keeps trying to move forward,” Poole said of McGriggs, adding that the foundation already has a tax ID number. “This speaks tremendously to her heart,” Poole added.
Two local businesses have stepped up to help with fundraising and on Saturday there will be two events to raise funds for the family and the foundation.
The first is a picnic outside of the administration building at Hope VI (formerly Center Court), at 1710 Calumet Ave. The event will include a catered meal by Mama Net’s Catering Service, as well as music, a bounce house, face painting, basket auction and raffles.
The second event is a “Kids Pony Ride Play Day” at 1505 Pine Ave., being planned by the Street Kings Barbershop.
The two owners of the barbershop, Marcellus Overton and Fred Gilmar, had originally planned the event as a community day. When they learned about the fundraiser for their little client, Damarius, they decided to devote a portion of the proceeds of their event towards his family. Their event will include pony rides , a bounce house, relay races, games, a magic show and an appearance by Spiderman. Tickets will be sold for $25.
“I couldn’t imagine going through that with my own children,” said Overton about the barber’s participation in the fundraising.
Also, Andy Rondinelli, the owner of Kona Ice of Niagara Falls, will be selling his Hawaiian shaved ice at the Pine Avenue event and donating about 25 percent of his proceeds to Damarius and his family.
“We want to help his cause,” said Rondinelli, who just recently purchased the Kona franchise. “We’re from Niagara Falls so we want to get involved in anything to help the people in the Niagara Falls area.”IF YOU GO • WHAT: Two fundraisers for Damarius Shine • WHERE: 1710 Calumet Ave. and 1505 Pine Ave. • WHEN: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday on Calumet Ave. and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday on Pine Ave. • CONTACT INFO: Call Samantha McGriggs at 939-9378 or Street Kings Barbershop at 579-0168 or 208-2059