Donors raise funds for families in need to honor a beloved husband, father and sailor
ANNE PETERLIN REMEMBERS sitting in the waiting room each time she accompanied her husband, Dennis, to Smilow Cancer Hospital for treatment for his sarcoma.
“One of the first questions we’d ask the other patients was, ‘Where are you from?’” Anne and Dennis were just 20 minutes away, in Stratford.
That’s why they were surprised to find that many patients travel long distances—from all over the world—to be treated at Smilow.
“So many patients don’t live locally and face an extra burden of traveling and being away from their families during treatment,” she says. “We felt lucky after a long day of treatment—we could get home quickly, and Dennis could sleep in his own bed.”
Tragically, Dennis lost his battle with cancer in 2013. When Anne and her two young daughters wanted to honor Dennis and raise funds in his memory, they came up with an idea that was a perfect fit.
“Lots of people do a 5K or a bike ride in someone’s memory,” says Anne. “We wanted to do something different, and because Dennis loved sailing, we decided to do a regatta—a sailing race—at the Housatonic Boat Club. That’s where our family spent lots of time sailing and being with friends each summer.”
The first “HOPE Regatta” in 2014 was a small gathering where Dennis’s friends and family got together to celebrate his life. Since then, it has grown into a yearly event with 14 boats and over 200 participants, a happy hour, dinner, and a band. It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer day, and everyone is welcome.
Remembering Dennis’s empathy for those who travel long distances to get to Smilow, Anne and her daughters decided to donate the funds they raised to patients and families who struggle to afford a place to stay nearby when they come for treatment.
The Suites at Yale New Haven Hospital, just two blocks away from the hospital, offers discounted accommodations for patients and their families. But many families can’t afford the cost of staying in a hotel. The Peterlins created the “Suites—Patient and Family Support Fund” to help them. To date, the fund has helped more than 150 families pay for rooms at The Suites.
And last year, every guest that had to spend Thanksgiving at The Suites—17, to be exact— received a complimentary stay from this fund!
“We hope to reduce the burden and hardship of someone going through the same struggle Dennis did—to make their day a little bit better,” says Anne.