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Senator Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer, addresses the State Senate after being sworn in to office.

After reading the recent story of three-year old Nico McLaughlin from Robbinsville in the Times of Trenton, Senator Linda R. Greenstein took action today to bring awareness to Nico’s illness, Evans Syndrome, as well as to collect toys for kids at the New Jersey Cancer Institute.

“Reading how one local child has turned his difficult illness into a positive experience by collecting toys for other sick kids is inspirational and makes me want to pitch in to help,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “Nico and his mom Karen are doing a great thing by bringing some joy to the lives of kids who visit the New Jersey Cancer Institute.  I am happy to help out these efforts and to bring awareness to his disease.”

The resolution, which Senator Greenstein introduced today, would mark September 21st of each year as Evans Syndrome Day. Evans Syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder that destroys the body’s red and white blood cells and platelets, making patients susceptible to illness and bleeding.  Symptoms of Evans Syndrome are similar in nature to Leukemia and Lymphoma. While there is no cure for Evans Syndrome and therapies are often specific to the individual, many patients may have blood transfusions and stem cell implants to manage the disease. With proper treatment, many individuals suffering from Evans Syndrome go through periods of long remission.

Nico, who was diagnosed with Evans Syndrome in May, goes to the New JerseyCancerCenter in New Brunswick for treatment. It was there that Nico began using the hospital’s “prize box” to stay entertained during his treatments. The “prize box” should be filled with new, unwrapped toys for kids to play with, but due to its popularity, often remains empty. Nico and his mother, Karen, created “Toys for Nico” to collect toys to replenish the box to ensure that all the kids at the New Jersey Cancer Center have a toy to play with and take home after their treatments.

Senator Greenstein will be collecting new and unwrapped toys in her district office, 1249 South River Rd., Suite 105 in Cranbury for “Toys for Nico.” To stop the spread of germs to sick patients, Senator Greenstein asks that only new toys be donated.  Individuals looking for more information regarding the “Toys for Nico” drive can contact Senator Greenstein’s office at (609) 395-9911. The drive will begin immediately and continue through March 31, 2015.

“Hospitals, doctors and treatments can be scary for kids who have to deal with serious illnesses at such young ages. Nico and his family are doing such a selfless thing by collecting toys for the CancerCenter’s ‘prize box.’ I am hoping that community members from throughout the 14th District can help out with donating toys to help create a bright spot in otherwise tough days for these kids,” added Senator Greenstein.

If approved by the Legislature, the resolution would require the Governor to annually, on September 21st, issue a proclamation recognizing “Evans Syndrome Awareness Day” in New Jersey and call upon public officials and the people of the state to observe the day with appropriate programs and activities.  The resolution has been referenced to the Senate Health, Human Services and Seniors Citizens Committee.