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Grandmother's Struggle Inspires Saddle Brook Man To Raise Money, Awareness

TJ Sullivan raised $2,000 for the PKD Foundation and Theresa LaBarck Donation Fund last year.
TJ Sullivan raised $2,000 for the PKD Foundation and Theresa LaBarck Donation Fund last year. Photo Credit: COURTESY: TJ Sullivan
TJ Sullivan will host another event Dec. 10 in Ridgefield Park.
TJ Sullivan will host another event Dec. 10 in Ridgefield Park. Photo Credit: COURTESY: TJ Sullivan
The PDK Foundation is dedicated to curing Polycystic Kidney Disease, Sullivan said.
The PDK Foundation is dedicated to curing Polycystic Kidney Disease, Sullivan said. Photo Credit: COURTESY: TJ Sullivan

SADDLE BROOK, N.J.– TJ Sullivan of Saddle Brook watched his grandma deal with her illness and decided to conduct some research.

Twenty-five years ago, Theresa LaBarck – or "mom-mom" as Sullivan calls her – was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease

"PKD is one of the world's most common inherited disorders in which clusters of cysts develop primarily on or around the kidneys," Sullivan said. "This can lead to other medical issues, such as aneurysms, high blood pressure and kidney failure. Mom-mom is one of the strongest women I know, and continuously battles PKD with a determination to overcome it."

Sullivan started researching the disease two years ago and had a fundraiser in Ridgefield Park to benefit both the PKD Foundation and Theresa LaBarck Donation Fund .

"Giving back means the world to me," said Sullivan, who donated $1,000 to both organizations. "Feeling like you are making a difference with whatever charity you are passionate about creates a lot of positive energy inside. I've been so incredibly passionate about the PKD Foundation because its mission to find treatments and/or a cure for this incurable disease hits so close to home."

Sullivan is planning a second even, " Winter Wonderland , " from 5-10 p.m. Dec. 10 at Ridgefield Park's Knights of Columbus.

"The goal is to raise even more awareness for Polycystic Kidney Disease and the PKD Foundation," said Sullivan, who works part-time at his family's Ridgefield Park deli. "Money isn't always everything; sometimes word of mouth does more good. As I get deeper into my fundraising efforts, I meet even more incredible people that are somehow affected by PKD."

Ridgefield Park Mayor George Fosdick will serve as one of the keynote speakers.

Joe Kenney, Marty Rotella and the Sandy Stones Trio will perform.

A spaghetti and meatball dinner will be served.

Sullivan, a 2014 Saddle Brook High School graduate, previously volunteered at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital events and raised money for St. Philip The Apostle Church .

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