Date: Fri 20-Aug-1999
Date: Fri 20-Aug-1999
Ice Cream Social Scoops Up Fun And Goodwill
(with 3 cuts )
BY SHANNON HICKS
In just over two hours, visitors to an ice cream social held at St Rose Church
last weekend raised $550 for Thomas Ward and his family.
Last Saturday was another hot and humid day, one more for the tally board for
the summer of 1999. The air was thick and soupy, and there was even a light
mist midway through the early afternoon event.
But the mood in the carnival area at St Rose Church in Newtown was one of hope
and celebration. Lots of ice cream, toppings and soda helped keep the mood
light. Gallons of ice cream were scooped, thousands of sprinkles and hundreds
of strawberries were dispersed, and bottles of syrup were emptied as ice cream
lovers of all ages took time out during the afternoon of August 14 to say
hello to friends and neighbors, including Tom Ward.
Thomas, 13, is a Newtown resident who has not had an easy couple of years. In
early 1997, he was first diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, which is a treatable
form of bone cancer.
But then in March of 1998, doctors said the tumor in Tom's left leg was
spindle cell sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that is a type of malignant
peripheral nerve sheath tumor. The disease usually strikes adults, not
Tom had surgery to remove the tumor in August 1998, and was then treated for
eight weeks to battle a staph infection that developed in his leg.
Rehospitalization for the treatment of additional infections and problems with
the original wound not healing have dogged the teen during his recuperation
Family, friends and even strangers to Tom Ward have rallied around the boy and
his family, helping the Wards with everything from dinners for the family and
prayer vigils to benefit events in and around the community. There was a
haircut-a-thon by Ricci's Salon and The Hairworks, a hamburger and hot dog
dinner hosted by the Newtown Police Union, and even a donation from one of the
winning groups of last fall's Newtown Middle School Scarecrow Sculpture
Contest, all with the intention of helping the Ward family in its efforts to
pay off medical bills that are reaching into the seven figures.
Last Saturday afternoon, though, Tom was at a table with his sister and some
friends, busily making balloon animals for the younger children who visited
the ice cream social with their parents. Dressed in a black T-shirt and
shorts, his crutches lying on the ground nearby, Tom looked like any other
teen. He looked like he was enjoying a friendly event surrounded by a
Musicians Peter Obre and Alan Johnson provided the live entertainment for the
afternoon. The two performed an acoustic set that covered music from a few
genres and appealed to all ages, with songs by REM, Live and Simon & Garfunkel
among those performed.
Face painting was offered. For $1 per person, Caity Dalton and Stephanie
Nordst painted characters from the Pokeman craze, rainbows and suns, smiley
faces, and other decorations. Both girls are members of Girl Scout Cadet Troop
477 in Newtown.
Tom's grandparents, Mike and Pat Ward, drove up from Trumbull on Saturday to
offer the final raffle tickets for a Beanie Babies raffle. Tickets had been
pre-sold at Drug Center pharmacy, and the Wards were taking care of sales to
people who wanted to take a last-minute chance on the dolls. A drawing for the
dolls was held at the end of the social.
Also at the event was Officer Dana Schubert, Newtown's new youth officer, who
welcomed visits from children who were interested in learning about police
cars. Officer Schubert allowed his young visitors to climb into his cruiser,
turn on some of the lights and take a look at the view from the inside of a
But the center of the attention all afternoon was the ice cream. Large bowls
of vanilla, chocolate, chocolate-chocolate chip with almond, butter pecan ice
cream and watermelon sherbet were scooped for two hours straight.
Volunteer scoopers came from all walks of the community. There were members of
St Rose Church, which the Ward family attends, including Selectman Bill
Brimmer, Andrew Buzzi, Chris Fish, and Theresa Salvatore and her son, Matthew.
Tom's godmother Shari Burton was also working behind the ice cream counter,
along with St Rose School principal Donna DeLuca and Newtown Bee arts editor
Everyone who purchased a bowl of ice cream was then welcome to move to the
toppings bar, where large bowls of rainbow and chocolate sprinkles awaited.
Another bowl was filled with crispy-center M&M's candies.
If a fruit topping was preferred, there was one bowl filled with strawberries
and another with maraschino cherries. There were bottles of chocolate syrup,
butterscotch and caramel syrups, and even chocolate-cherry syrup to choose
from. For those trying to keep some semblance of a diet, some of the syrups
were low-fat. And to top everything off, there was plenty of whipped cream.
At 2 o'clock, an ice cream eating contest was held. Seven people -- Kelly
Burton, Allan Corbeil, Jeff Corbeil, Mike Corbeil, Joe Murphy, Emily Reynolds
and Tom Ward -- paid $1 each to enter the contest and for two minutes, all
seven sat at a table together and ate as much ice cream as they could while
the clock was running. At the end of two minutes, Tom Ward was announced the
Friends and family are hoping, of course, that with continued medical care and
support from the community, Tom Ward will win more than an ice cream eating
contest. The 13-year old looks like he may also be winning his battle against