Sunday fundraiser in Northampton to help Haydenville family battling illness

Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — A fundraiser is planned Sunday to benefit a Haydenville woman recently diagnosed with a serious illness and her teenage daughter, who is struggling to support her by working a part-time job.

The 3 p.m. event at the World War II Club, 50 Conz St., will raise money for Sylvia Hemminger, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. The fundraiser, which supplements an online GoFundMe effort, includes a dinner, music and silent auction.

Hemminger’s daughter, Hayley Hemminger-Martin, 18, is a senior at Northampton High School who played the role of Jesus in the school’s March production of “Godspell.” She is now financially supporting her mother through a part-time job at a restaurant while finishing her school year.

The fundraising efforts started after the musical’s director, Cate Damon, sent a message to several community members, trying to gather any help for Hayley that she could.

Among the recipients of Damon’s message was Tom McCusker, a parent of a student in the musical and the organizer of the Hampshire County Relay for Life event. McCusker and fellow parents started a GoFundMe page and began organizing Sunday’s event.

“We kind of rallied the troops and started putting together a couple different fundraisers,” McCusker said.

According to an update from Sylvia posted to the GoFundMe page last week, she was recovering from surgery and was scheduled to begin chemotherapy in about a week.

On Wednesday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $4,770 toward a goal of $15,000. Hayley’s part-time work has been the family’s only source of income, according to the page.

McCusker said he hopes that by easing some of the financial burden, the donations can help Hayley and her mother to “put the focus back on family.”

Damon said she and fundraiser organizers have also promised Sylvia that they will make sure Hayley has the money needed to start college in the fall.

When preparing for Godspell, Hayley recalled how her mother started teaching her to sing around the age of 9, and emphasized that she is thankful for her mother’s support.

The suggested admission price for Sunday’s event is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. To donate to the GoFundMe campaign, visit

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at


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