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Benefit to be held for beloved Tonawanda couple

TONAWANDA - A family’s double tragedy has led a group of neighbors in Tonawanda to offer help to those left behind who are still picking up the pieces of their lives.

Not long after Christmas, the four children of Linda Snedden and Julio Serrano suffered two indescribable heartbreaks within just a few days. Snedden died at age 52 after a battle with lupus and diabetes. Just two days later, her husband, 63, died in his sleep, leaving their children, ages 12, 18, 19 and 20 devastated and filled with grief.

While they will never get their parents back, there is hope for the children, courtesy of their neighbors who shared the loss of two loving and kind friends. A benefit will be held for the Serrano children from 4-10 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at the American Legion Post 264, 60 Main St. The event was put together by several of the neighbors of the Serrano’s who, like the four Serrano children, are still reeling from these untimely and sorrowful deaths of two trusted and beloved friends.

“They had the biggest hearts, literally. They would give you the shirt off their backs,” benefit organizer Melissa Kern said. “They always had a Fourth of July party every year because it was Julio’s birthday also. But he always said it was America’s birthday.”

Kern and fellow organizers Tracy Dwyer, Lisa Salgot and Theresa Kowalcyk have put their efforts together in the hopes of raising money not just for the children left behind, but for those who suffer from the same ailments that took Snedden’s life. Per the children’s request, five percent of the money raised will go to the Lupus Alliance of America, and another five percent will go to the American Diabetes Foundation in memory of Snedden and Serrano.

It’s what they would have done had such a tragedy befallen someone they loved, Kern believes.

“Their door was always open to everybody. They would never turn anybody away, no matter who you were or what it was about, if they could help you, they would,” she said. “You hear about people like this, but we can actually say we knew people like this.”

Dwyer added, “My son thought of her as Nurse Linda. Anytime he got hurt, she was the only one who could touch him. I wasn’t allowed.”

The fundraiser will include a Chinese auction, 50/50 split, entertainment, food and beverages. Tickets are $20 pre-sale or $25 at the door for adults, $5 for children between 13-17 and children 12 and under will be admitted free. A Facebook page has been created for the event, and it can be found by searching “Benefit for the Children of the Late Linda Snedden and Julio Serrano.”

“They made an impact on the neighborhood. It really hit hard,” Kern said. “They weren’t rich; they didn’t have money to leave these boys. We’re just trying to do what we can do to help them.”

Donations of items for the auction or for food for the event are being accepted. To offer a donation, call Kern at 692-4986 or Dwyer at 692-1689. Items of other donations can also be mailed to 331 Hinds St. in Tonawanda.

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