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Family event Sunday will benefit two local children battling cancer

A local Relay for Life team, Flamingo Mafia Team M&M, is collaborating with the Ice House Inn on Sunday to raise money for the families of Nora Sabella, 7, battling Neuroblastoma and Joey Gaskel, 4, battling pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia 

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AUSTINTOWN — A local Relay for Life team, Flamingo Mafia Team M&M, is collaborating with the Ice House Inn on Sunday to raise money for the families of Nora Sabella, 7, battling neuroblastoma, and Joey Gaskel, 4, battling pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The family-oriented event at the Ice House Inn will be from noon to 9 p.m. and feature entertainment, a bucket auction, children's activities and more for Nora and Joey, who both relapsed after undergoing rigorous treatments. 

Many businesses, including The Mocha House, Buckeye Tent & Party Rentals, Escape Boardman, El Cowboy Tex Mex Grille, Legacy Limousine and Sam's Club Boardman, are making monetary contributions and donating their time and resources to the cause as well. 

“We have seven live bands. We have eight comedians. There are carnival games for the kids that they will get tickets for ... the prize booth and pick out a prize,” said Terri Schneider, team captain of Flamingo Mafia Team M&M. 

“We have a bounce house, a dunk tank, cotton candy machine and snow cone machine. We're hoping to have at least 100 baskets for the auction… We have a 65-inch TV we're raffling off at $10 a ticket [and] we have a brand new recliner that was donated to us from American Freight that we're raffling off a $10 a ticket,” she added. 

Schneider said the Flamingo Mafia Team M&M was started when her father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. 

“Our biggest fundraiser that we would do was flocking people's yards with 25 pink flamingo yard ornaments. One day somebody called us Flamingo Mafia and that's how we got [the name] Flamingo Mafia.”

Now, the team has grown to 33 members and is Columbiana County’s No. 1 Relay For Life team in donations to The American Cancer Society this year, according to acsevents.org. 

“We take everything about cancer completely serious. We do everything we can to help,” Schneider said. 

Schneider told Mahoning Matters that she found out Nora’s story through a mutual friend.

“I wanted to be able to bring a smile to Nora’s face so I asked if she would talk to Nora’s mom to see if I could flock their house with our flamingos as a donation from our team,” she said. 

After Flamingo Mafia Team M&M flocked Nora’s house, Nora’s family wanted to extend the gesture and flock Joey’s house — who was in chemotherapy treatments at the same time as Nora. 

“I had been wanting to do a really big benefit with bands and stuff like that and I just thought, ‘Well this is a perfect time!’ because I knew that Nora’s family can use a little pick-me-up and a little bit of help,” Schneider said. “I [asked] Nora’s mother, ‘What if we add Joey and his family into this as well?’ and she was all for it. So, that's how I met both of them -- through flocking.” 

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for children between three and 12 years old. There is no admission charge for children under 3. Visit Ice House Inn, 5516 W. Webb Road, or call Rosa at 330-559-0465 for tickets in advance. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the event.

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