JERSEY SHORE - Helping Hands From Hudson, an organization that raises funds to benefit children battling childhood cancer, will hold its second gun raffle fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Jersey Shore Elks Lodge No. 1057, 203 N. Main St.
The organization was started in memory of Hudson Rinker, who lost his battle with cancer Feb. 20, 2009, just before his second birthday.
Hudson's family began the organization to help other children - they like to call "Courageous Kids" - who are going through similar experiences that they did with Hudson.
"We have a growing number of kids we are working with and we will no doubt be seeing more in the future," Hudson's father, Tom Rinker said. "We rely on our fundraising events to provide assistance and some comfort to kids and families who need it."
Rinker said their first event raised $20,000 and their hope is to exceed that amount this year. The event is free and open to the public, and the money is raised through raffle and auction items, basket raffles and the main event - a gun raffle. There also will be food, refreshments and a cash bar available to attendees and the event is non-smoking.
The money raised at the event will help the organization provide a variety of services and assistance to children and families in need.
"We provide financial assistance, wish gifts for the children and their siblings and a host of other things that can help make their ordeal a little easier," Rinker said. "We have provided iPads for the families for when they are in the hospital for extensive periods of time, games and toys for the kids, financial support to help pay bills and expenses during the year and special gifts at Christmas."
The organization even was able to help grant a little girl's wish of becoming a "princess for a day" at Walt Disney World.
Rinker said the amount of support the organization has received from the community is astounding.
"We have a small army of area residents dedicated to helping us reach our goals and help kids each and every time we host an event," he said.
More information about the event can be found on the Helping Hands From Hudson Facebook page.
"My family and I want to do all we can to make sure other children and families do not have to go through what we did. We lost our son and it was the saddest and most difficult time of our lives. If there is anything we can do to change even a small part of that for others, we will try," Rinker said.
Hudson would have turned 7 on March 30 and the family chose to hold the fundraiser as close to Hudson's birthday as possible to honor his memory.
"It adds a little bit more of Huddy's memory and that keeps us driving on," Rinker said.