Saratoga Springs Mardi Gras party to help 'Jake's Help from Heaven'

January 11, 2019 07:40 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Perhaps the biggest party of the year will take place at the Canfield Casino on Saturday night.

Volunteers were busy Friday hanging beads, masks and other decorations for a Mardi Gras celebration where 625 people will raise money for Jake's Help from Heaven.

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The Saratoga Springs-based charity provides and delivers equipment and grants to people with disabilities and special needs. Jake's Help from Heaven also reimburses families for travel to doctors and hospitals.

The charity was started in 2011 in memory of little Jake Straughter.

"He was born completely healthy. And when he was 8 months old, in the middle of the night, he had a seizure," said Heather Straughter.

Through three years of seizures, long hospital stays and doctor visits, he remained Heather and Brian Straughter's little boy.

"He would still give smiles and they were the most amazing thing you've ever seen," beamed Heather on Friday, during a break in preparing for the fundraiser.

Jake passed away at the age of 4, but he's still sharing smiles through his family's charity -- which has selflessly raised and given away nearly $700,000 worth of life-changing equipment and grants to Capital Region families. But his mother, who participates in all deliveries, is the one who is most grateful.

"He has given me this gift and this opportunity. I wish like hell he was here with me."

Hattie's Restaurant puts on the event every year and owners picked this charity for a second time because they've seen firsthand the good they're doing.

"And I would like to think that Jake is smiling down on us all," said Beth Alexander, owner of Hattie's.

There will be 625 people there in honor of one little boy who won't -- at least in person.

"I feel like he's here and I feel like he's really proud," said Heather.


Mark Mulholland

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