“No parent should ever lose a child. It’s not the correct order of things,” said Anna Casador of Cranston.
She and her son, Eric Medeiros, shared a similar passion – to help those in need. Then, in October 2007, the unimaginable happened.
“That day, it all stopped. My world came crushing down around me,” Casador said. “I lost my Eric in a car accident. Eric suffered a traumatic brain injury. Letting him go was the hardest most painful thing ever.”
As Casador healed from her devastating loss, she has continued to help the community just as she had done with her son by her side.
On Sept. 3 from 6 to 10 p.m., the third annual Eric Medeiros Memorial Foundation Fundraising Gala will be held at Spain Restaurant in Cranston. Tickets cost $65 per person.
Last year, tickets sold out early. This year’s event promises to be even larger and will include celebrity emcees, a red carpet, photographers, raffles, live auctions and volunteer awards. Steven Palumbo and DJ Vito will provide entertainment for the night, and henna artist Holly Ferreira will also be on hand.
This year will also feature a raffle for a St. Croix beach getaway package, with entries costing $20 each or $100 for six. Entrants do not need to be present to win the raffle, but must provide contact information.
The mission of the Eric Medeiros Memorial Foundation is to continue to raise funds within the community and support various charities throughout Rhode Island.
“Charity work has always given me a sense of achievement and fulfillment in my life journey,” Casador said. “All along, I always involved my children. I felt it was important for them to learn from an early age to be grateful and to give back to their community. Eric was always by my side, no matter what we were helping with – selling cupcakes to help the orphanage, making sandwiches for the mission on Sundays, selling pasta dinners to support the animal shelter, whatever needed to get done.”
After the loss of her son, Casador thought about the things Eric and she did together.
“I could hear his voice, ‘Come on, Ma, you still have work to do.’ And so, I did,” she said. “Slowly the little charity work has grown, and we are able to help even more people. Through fundraising events, help of friends and family volunteering, we are doing good things to help others.”
The foundation is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
“We support the Brain Injury Association of RI, CCAP and local food pantries, have ongoing clothing drives and food drives, help displaced families with emergency aid, and support other charities,” Casador said. “Our mission is to raise funds and awareness for the needs in our community by the power of volunteers, community coming together, fundraising events and donations.”
Most important to Casador is that “we are remembering and honoring Eric, and keeping his memory alive.”
Also, through Casador’s pageant family – her titles as 2017, 2018 and 2019 Mrs. Knightsville Rhode Island America, 2019 Ms. Rhode Island New England States and, most recently, 2019 National Classic American Women of Service – and her other community involvement, she has been able to meet more people, which meant more awareness and more people they can help.
The gala’s menu will include hors d’oeuvres of grilled flatbread, assorted pizzas, and shrimp and chicken empanadillas. There will also be a dinner buffet consisting of pork tenderloin, chicken parmesan, pasta marinara, Spain’s paella valencia, beef tenderloin tips, calamari, stuffed fish, sautéed vegetables, roasted potatoes, tomato salad with fresh mozzarella, and desserts. A cash bar will also be available.
For more information about the event and to purchase tickets or enter the raffle, visit ericmedeirosmemorialfoundation.com.