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Sea Cliff nonprofit Penelope’s Odyssey raises more than $20G

Penelope Ruderman, 5, of Sea Cliff, was diagnosed

Penelope Ruderman, 5, of Sea Cliff, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3 in September 2010. Her parents formed a nonprofit to help other families going through the same situation. (July 12, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

After a Sea Cliff couple found gaps in counseling services during their toddler’s fight with leukemia in 2010, they formed a nonprofit to raise awareness for pediatric cancers.

Lori Schneider’s daughter, Penelope, was diagnosed in 2010 with leukemia at age 3. After receiving a bone marrow transplant in January 2011, Penelope, now 5, is in remission.

In June 2011, Schneider and her husband Matthew Ruderman formed a nonprofit called Penelope’s Odyssey, named after their daughter’s journey battling leukemia, and has partnered with DKMS Americas, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center.

At the nonprofit’s inaugural fundraiser, “Supporting Braveness with Kindness,” on March 21 at Cedar Creek American Bar & Grill in Glen Cove, they raised $22,127.

“Many people came knowing we started the nonprofit but didn’t really know why,” Lori Schneider said. “It was really cathartic for us to share our story and to see how touched people were by what Penelope went through and what we’re now trying to do.”

Nearly 140 people attended the event, sitting among white-and-teal decor with an open bar, live entertainment and silent and Chinese auctions. They could win a trip to Argentina, Islanders tickets, massages, movie tickets, paintings, jewelry and other items.

Schneider’s dream is for the nonprofit to someday offer mental health support for families with sick children, host bereavement groups and have a tutor center.

“Our goal is to have a space that’s Penelope's Odyssey, a place families can come for resources,” she said. “This really isn’t about Penelope anymore. She’s just one representation of the many children in New York and Long Island living with cancer.”

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