COVENTRY - You may have noticed a number of your colleagues or your child’s friends wearing pajamas on Friday. That’s because it’s PJ Day in the state of Connecticut. A day created to raise awareness for children fighting cancer.
"People care. It means that people really want to make a difference," said Tara Wesoloskie.
A day that formed from humble beginnings has grown into so much more.
"We had participation from 150 of the 169 towns in the state of Connecticut," said Wesoloskie.
Coventry High School was filled with dozens of people all rocking their pajamas for a cause.
"It means a lot that they’re helping kids and really care about it," said Charlotte Wesoloskie
Charlotte Wesoloskie has been cancer-free for 11 years. She fought a rare, aggressive form of cancer in her chest wall at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. After a year of treatment, her cancer would go into remission.
In 2011, her brother Nick wanted to show his support for her and all the other children fighting cancer. He challenged his elementary school friends to wear pajamas to school to stand in solidarity with the children who wear PJ's weeks at a time during treatment.
"He says he wanted everyone to do this and by everyone, he meant everyone in his little school. Not everyone across the state like it has become," said Tara Wesoloskie
Nick raised $500 that year. Since then PJ Day has spread through Coventry to first responders and local businesses to well beyond town lines. They have raised over $650,000 in the last eight years.
"I’m so proud of what this has become because it’s not necessarily about me and my family spreading it," said Nick Wesoloskie. "It’s people all across Connecticut taking it and making it their own."
A number of events were held throughout the state of Connecticut. Coventry High School held raffles and a movie night for all in attendance.
"It’s fun getting to be with our friends watching movies," said Madisen Yanez who also beat childhood cancer. "It’s kind of like a slumber party because you’re sitting there watching a movie in your jammies."
PJ Day not only helps kids in local communities it helps raise awareness and bring people together
"Some of the kids that participate are raising money for clinical trials that they were actually on that saved their lives," said Tara Wesoloskie.
Lives impacted by hundreds of participants who dawned PJ's inspiring others to never lose hope.
"You can do it," said Yanez.
All of the proceeds raised during the day go directly to Connecticut Children’s Miracle Center. The goal was to raise $350,000 which would crack $1,000,000 in total funds raised.
In the coming years, they hope to spread PJ Day to every town in the state. They also hope to expand to other states to raise funds for children's medical centers across the country.
If you are interested in donating click here.