By Brandon HENSLEY
They came for Novalee – and it was worth every nickel.
The Elks Lodge in Tujunga was rockin’ last Saturday night as the community gave time, money and good wishes to support “Strength for Novalee,” a fundraiser for La Crescenta resident Misty Harlan to help pay for medication for her daughter.
From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., partygoers bid on auction items, dined on chicken wings and cupcakes, and danced the night away to DJ Dave Mancini’s playlist.
“It was fantastic,” Harlan said. “So many friends came forward to help set up and keep things running smoothly during the night. The support for my princess is beyond overwhelming.”
Novalee, who turned 4 last week, has lissencephaly, microcephaly and cortical vision impairment. In short, she has a brain malformation in which there are no ridges like in those of a normal brain. Until last year, Novalee endured up to 100 seizures a day.
After many trials and error with medications, Novalee is currently showing progress under Cannibidial (CBD), a compound found in cannabis that does not get the user high and has medical benefits for children. But CBD is not only hard to obtain; it’s expensive. Harlan chose to hold a fundraiser and, through Facebook, word spread further than she thought it would. She said she didn’t know exactly how many people showed up, but said she was more than happy with everything.
Harlan’s Vons co-worker Amber Velasquez was with Harlan every step of the way in organizing the event.
“She’s a fantastic mom. I love her to pieces,” Velasquez said.
Also in attendance was former state assembly member Anthony Portantino, a supporter of College View, the special needs school Novalee attends in Glendale.
“Tonight, there’s a young girl from the school who needs medication, and the community is here to support,” said Portantino, who won several home appliances in the auction for his young adult daughter.
“To have more than a hundred members in the community come out … it says a lot about both the family and the need [for medication],” he said.
The few auction items that were not bid on were given to Our Lady of Lourdes student Maddie Patriarca for her Valentine’s Dance and silent auction this weekend. Patriarca is involved in a fundraiser benefiting canine lymphoma.
The large amount of extra food and desserts were left with Earl Bouchard at the Elks Lodge to be taken to the homeless veterans group the Elks support.
Harlan went to the front of the dance floor and spoke briefly to the crowd. She thanked everyone for their support before getting emotional. Afterward, she said the night’s festivities raised enough money for six months of medication for Novalee, and all the donations prior to the event will fund an additional three months.
Velasquez is happy to have the community participate in the festivities, but she’s more proud to be close to Harlan and her daughter.
“I’ve been there since day one when Novalee was born. I was the first person that held her after her mom. I’ve seen so much change in her,” Velasquez said of CBD’s benefits. “She’s mobile now. She picks her head up. She talks. She’s sassy.”
Harlan said next year’s fundraiser is set for Feb. 20.