BLACKFOOT — A 5-year-old boy moving from Connecticut to California with his family recently stopped in Idaho and other states along the way to raise funds so children with serious medical conditions can have fun camp experiences.
Jude Cavagnuolo used his Facebook page to keep followers up to date on his travels and to try to raise at least $1,000 by stopping at significant attractions in 20 different states to do 20 jumping jacks at each one.
It was all part of the Dare to Dream effort to help the SeriousFun Children’s Network.
The SeriousFun program was started in 1988 by actor Paul Newman, according to Jude’s mother Stephanie Hartnett, who works for SeriousFun.
That all led Jude and his family to stop in Blackfoot.
“We found out about the world’s largest styrofoam potato, and I spoke to him about it and Jude immediately loved that idea,” Stephanie said.
During his stop in Idaho with Stephanie and his father, Jared Cavagnuolo, Jude did 20 jumping jacks in front of the world’s largest styrofoam potato.
The organization’s Dare to Dream effort has now concluded, but people can still make donations there to help Jude get to his current goal of $6,000 for what Jude says is a big deal.
Meanwhile, Jude not only helped raise funds for SeriousFun, along the way he also developed a liking for oversized roadside attractions of all sorts.
So that includes not just the potato at Blackfoot, but the world’s tallest thermometer in California and the world’s largest freestanding sculpture of a bird in Atlanta.
And that’s not to mention the world’s largest rocking chair in Illinois.
But ultimately the important thing is the funds they raised during the trip will help provide camp experiences for kids with serious illnesses who otherwise might not be able to enjoy such experiences, Stephanie said.
All the camps provide a recreational fun time that is adapted to meet the medical needs of ill children and are programmed to foster psychological and social development, according to SeriousFun.
And they even provide similar experiences for kids with serious illnesses in Europe and other countries.
Ultimately, the family decided to try to raise funds along the way for the organization as part of its Dare to Dream effort.
And their visit to the potato at Blackfoot made Idaho the 17th state where they stopped during their cross-country trip.
Stephanie said it was great for Jude not just for the fundraising effort, but because he loves potatoes, she said.
The family decided to move after Jared’s father passed away on the East Coast, she said.
“I think everybody just kind of wanted a change and warmer weather and I’m originally from California,” she said.
So it’s kind of all of that making the decision to move back, she said.
Further, Jared’s mother, Jude’s grandmother, is also moving from Connecticut to California.
Jared said the whole thing started when they asked Jude if he was interested in doing something for the fundraising effort and he thought jumping jacks were a fun thing, he said.
And Stephanie says the trip has been beneficial for Jude.
“We can tell him about helping other people and things like that,” she said. “But if you’re doing it I think that’s more of an impact than us saying you should care about other people.”
And she adds that while the actual Dare to Dream Challenge officially ended on Labor Day, the family still hopes additional donations will keep coming in.