BennettStrong Foundation Hosted Third Annual Gala

The BennettStrong Foundation held its third annual gala this past Saturday at the Northampton Valley Country Club and raised funds for its N/ICU parent survival kits; a project that the foundation has been working on in conjunction with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the past two years. BennettStrong raised more than any other gala previously to help continue the funding of the parent survival kits in the N/ICU.

“The highlight of the evening for me was hearing Dr. Casey Hoffman share the impact the journals are having on families in the N/ICU,” said Mary Pellegrino, Co-Founder of BennettStrong.  “We started this simple project with the goal of enhancing parents’ ability to cope with their child’s N/ICU journey, and it’s doing more than we imagined.  To see families benefitting from the journals and pens means more than I can express.  It’s literally a dream come true.  Their stories drive the energy we need to continue to improve support for N/ICU families and I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do next! We have some great ideas and we’re looking forward to continuing to partner with health care providers to put these ideas into action!”

Dr. Casey Hoffman, a clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia specializing in early childhood, was this year’s keynote speaker.  Dr. Hoffman discussed the impact of the journals on families in the N/ICU as well as the importance of the project and how it’s being implemented.

She also shared feedback from families currently in the N/IICU that are using the journals.  Families have been using the journals to write down feelings/emotions about their N/ICU stay, tracking their baby’s progress, writing letters to their baby and writing down medical questions and notes to name a few.

One family stated, “I enjoy tracking my baby’s progress, it will be nice to look back on someday.” Another parent mentioned how the journal’s small size is a good feature.  A third family felt the journals were a great outlet and a way to get some emotions out, as well as a way to write letters to their baby to document his N/ICU journey.

Dr. Hoffman also stressed the importance of parents taking care of themselves while in the N/ICU and the importance of self-care. BennettStrong’s goal moving forward is to continue to provide journals to families in the N/ICU as well as enhance the kits to provide additional support to families.

James Allsman, the public address announcer for a number of area local universities, including Holy Family University and the University of Pennsylvania, served as emcee of the event, while DJ Dave Gordon of Accent Event Group set the tone for the evening with a variety of tunes that got the guests up on the dance floor.

Throughout the night gala attendees had the opportunity to win a variety of raffle baskets by generous donors within the community.  Guests also took part in a silent auction and a trip to Florida was auctioned off.  A Valentines Weekend getaway in Avalon was also given away after guests competed in a game of “Bennett-Says.”

The mission of the BennettStrong Foundation is to provide support to families of medically complex children. For more information, visit our website at or stay up-to-date with the foundation by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.