Little Wish Mardi Groctober Fest this weekend

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Liz Niemiec sits with Little Wish recipient Kyle at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in April. Kyle’s wish was a custom headphone set and speakers to listen to music in the hospital. (Submitted photo)

Liz Niemiec sits with Little Wish recipient Kyle at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in April. Kyle’s wish was a custom headphone set and speakers to listen to music in the hospital. (Submitted photo)

By Chris Bavender

Don’t want to wait until spring to celebrate Mardi Gras? Then the Little Wish Foundation’s Mardi Groctober Fest Oct. 12 is just the ticket. The event will raise money to help the nonprofit continue to provide “little wishes” for children battling cancer. It will feature a Cajun shrimp boil, Andouille sausage sandwiches and hot dogs, as well as jazz bands and a kids’ area with games and mask making.

“With the popularity of jazz, we thought Indy could use a shrimp boil in the fall to bring a new spin on fall events,” said Little Wish founder, Liz Niemiec.” Delicious food with some good music makes a perfect combo.”

Mardi Groctober is 2 to 7 p.m. at the Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416 Union Hall, at 748 Massachusetts Ave. in downtown Indianapolis. The use of the hall is being donated to Little Wish by Local 416 Treasurer Jason Hansman.

“When approached by Little Wish we couldn’t in good faith charge for the use of our union hall for such a good cause,” Hansman said.

“Firefighters are showing their support by donating the venue and we couldn’t be more thankful or touched by their generosity,” Niemiec said. “When people support Little Wish we feel blessed that they have joined our cause and are making a difference in a very sick child’s life. We love firefighters – they have been very supportive in many of our events.”

Little Wish Foundation, which is based in Hamilton Co.,was founded four years ago by the now 21-year-old Niemiec after a teacher’s son – Max – died of a rare form of kidney cancer. All Max wanted before he died was a puppy – which his parents gave him. On the way home from his funeral, Niemiec told her mom she wanted to start a foundation to make sure every child battling cancer was able to have their own little wish granted.

Fast forward and to date 259 wishes have been granted at five Indiana hospitals – Riley Hospital for Children, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, Riley North in Carmel, Lutheran Children’s Hospital in Ft. Wayne, and South Bend Memorial.

“Granting wishes to children with cancer has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” Niemiec said. “It’s an overwhelmingly emotional and gratifying experience to walk into a hospital room and see a very ill child, sometimes too sick to sit up in bed, light up with a huge smile when we walk in the room with their wish. We want to deliver a smile to as many children as possible and keep on giving.”

Tickets for Mardi Groctober are $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6 to 11, and free for kids 5-years-old and under. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, call 219-809-7653 or e-mail littlewish@comcast.net.

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