Breast Cancer Benefit Gives Parents a Night Out

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The GCC Child Development Center staff raised over $2,000 in a Parents’ Night Out event on Nov. 5 to benefit a scholarship established in memory of a late co-worker, Kelly Gardner-Kuentz, who died of breast cancer last year.

Parents’ Night Out was originally formed in 2000 to raise money to help find the cure for breast cancer. The cause became even closer to their hearts when Gardner-Kuentz was diagnosed with breast cancer two years later.

Gardner-Kuentz, a 37-year-old GCC alumna and a child development teacher at the center, was eight months pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer in January 2002. After giving birth to her son Joshua, she endured over two years of unsuccessful treatments and a mastectomy, before she lost her personal battle against the disease on June 5, 2004.

“We were a very tight family, so losing somebody we had worked with for 10 years was very hard,” said Leslie Ortiz-Mitchell, a child development teacher who organized this year’s Parents’ Night Out.

At the suggested donation of $50 per child, 39 children came to the Child Development Center that night to do arts and crafts, cognitive games, and listen to stories before they changed into proper outfits for the pajama party at the end of the night.

The children were supervised by three teachers and 12 student workers who volunteered their time for the event.

Although she didn’t need childcare that night, Jeannie Mirzaryan, the mother of a 4-year-old Mia, brought her daughter to the center. With her husband out of town, the Parents’ Night Out did not seem very appealing.

However, she wished to make a donation and be a part of the fundraising effort. “It is a wonderful cause,” said Mirzaryan, who lost her father to cancer three years ago.

The money raised in this year’s Parent’s Night Out event will benefit the Kelly Gardner-Kuentz Memorial Scholarship?and Foundation established in 2004 by parents and teachers. The scholarship, in the amount of $500, will be awarded to a child development transfer student who meets the scholarship eligibility criteria.

This year’s Parents’ Night Out raised $2,040. The single highest donation of the night was $125. Some parents made donations of as much as $100, even though they did not bring their children to the center.

For more information about the scholarship, call the Glendale College Scholarship Office at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5591.

For information about the Kelly Gardner-Kuentz Foundation and the fund-raising efforts of the Child Development Center staff, call Jeanette Tashiro, Director of the Child Development Center, at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5665.