Good Grief’s Great Pumpkin Ball Raises $315,000 for Grieving Families!

Good Grief’s Great Pumpkin Ball Raises $315,000 for Grieving Families!

Melissa Parrish Press

(Short Hills, NJ) – Good Grief’s seventh annual Great Pumpkin Ball, “Speakeasy Soirée”, was held on Friday, October 20th at Canoe Brook Country Club in Short Hills, NJ. The annual gala had 250 attendees and raised $315,000 of much needed funds for the organization’s mission of providing free and unlimited support to children and families following the death of a mother, father, sister, or brother. Good Grief serves over 700 grieving children and adults in over 200 communities in the state of New Jersey through its Princeton and Morristown centers.

The 1920’s themed event featured Jerry Vezza’s jazz trio, a silent auction, a whiskey and wine pull, and celebratory dancing. After the opening social hour, guests were invited into the main ballroom to hear about Good Grief’s programs and the impact they have on children and families who have suffered a loss. The three guest emcees for the night, Aliyah, Nadia, and Ava, bravely shared personal stories of how loss and grief have affected them and their families, and about the very important role Good Grief plays in their lives.

Aliyah and Nadia, 11-year-old twins, are current participants at Good Grief in Princeton. “A little over 4 years ago, my Dad passed away from pancreatic cancer. He died the day after his 49th birthday.”, Aliyah told the audience. Nadia chimed in with a smile on her face, “I have many good memories about my father. One of my favorite memories was when we went strawberry picking at a local farm. I remember him reaching into the bush and getting me the perfect strawberry.” The sisters charismatically shared their stories, making the importance of Good Grief clear to the crowd, “I get really excited when it is time to go to Good Grief. I don’t have to worry about kids being mean to me or acting weird around me. I know Good Grief is a safe place.”

Ava, 11-years-old, is an alumna of Good Grief in Morristown. Ava’s father died when she was only 2-years-old, “My mom thought that we were doing ‘just fine’, but after trying to have a ‘normal’ Christmas, we realized that without my dad, nothing would ever be the same again. Lucky for us, a neighbor told us about Good Grief and we decided to give it a try.” Ava continued, “Today I am an aluma of the program. Good Grief helped me deal with how I felt and gave me a place to talk about my feelings with people who understood how it was to be the ‘only one.’ It’s really good to know that you aren’t ever the ‘only one,’ even if it feels that way.” Ava continues to be involved in the Good Grief community, and she was a camper in the inaugural Grief Expressions Summer Camp this August.

Good Grief’s programs are free of charge to the grieving families and all funds raised at the Great Pumpkin Ball support the delivery of its free and unlimited programming. As the emcees walked off of the stage, Joseph Primo, CEO of Good Grief, addressed the 250 guests. “Death implodes your life, but grief puts it back together. When you break something in your house, what do you use to reassemble it? Glue, probably lots of glue. Duct tape…a huge favorite in my house. Well, at Good Grief we use compassion, support and community, and each of you here are part of the support that makes this work possible. We sincerely thank each and every one of you.” The $315,000 raised will go towards Good Grief’s programming, education, and advocacy to ensure that no child ever has to grieve alone.

The 2017 Great Pumpkin Ball was a huge success due to the support of its volunteer planning committee and Good Grief’s corporate partners. The Great Pumpkin Ball planning committee included Sara Caldwell, Cindy Clark, Lorraine Da Silva, Linda Hough, Susan Kim, Katie Liegel, Ryan Pirchio, Gena Pogorzelski, Maryann Reilly, Pam Sullivan, Phyllis Watson, and Sharon Knightly. Corporate partners for the event included Celgene and Private Advisor Group. Event sponsors included Atlantic Health System, Bayer Healthcare, CBRE, Church & Dwight, Crum & Forster, JBK Associates International, Novartis, Princeton Healthcare System, and Sanofi.

For more information on how to make a difference or get involved, please contact or visit


Good Grief is respected as a national leader in delivering grief services to children and their families. It is the leading provider of these services in New Jersey, serving over 1,000 children since its founding in 2004. Good Grief is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unlimited free support to children, teens and families after the death of a parent or sibling. Servicing more than 200 Communities, Good Grief operates programs in Morristown and Princeton. For more information