It was such a clever idea, it even had a catchy name: Twilight for Starlight. "Twilight," of course, refers to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final film based on the popular book series. "Starlight" is the Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization that facilitates events for children who have serious illnesses and their families. Tying the two together in a fund-raising event was the idea of 18-year-old Amanda Fogel, a senior at Tenafly High School.
"I happen to be a big fan of the Twilight movie series," Amanda says. And for some time, she had been interested in doing something on behalf of the Starlight Children's Foundation. "When I thought of the two together, it seemed like the perfect fit to create an event that I knew would appeal to me and many other people just like me. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me, my friends and the Starlight families to come together and support a good cause while having a good time."
And that's how a packed house of moviegoers on a November evening at the AMC Garden State Plaza enjoyed the movie while the proceeds of the event benefitted the Starlight Charity. It didn't just happen, of course. Amanda first had to secure permission from both the AMC as well as Lionsgate, which made the film. Along with the Starlight Foundation, she organized and promoted the event. Amanda created a Facebook page and ticket-selling site, which all culminated with the special event.
The teen, who lives in Tenafly with her mom, Dale, and her dad, Bennett, and has an older brother, J.B., had her first experience with a children's charity at summer camp.
"Three years ago during my last summer at sleepaway camp," Amanda says, "one of the things we did as the oldest age group was volunteer as counselors at Camp Sunshine." Camp Sunshine in Maine is a summer program for children afflicted with serious illnesses and their families. "That experience made a real impression on me. Since the second I left, I wanted to stay involved in helping make unfortunately ill children smile and try to make their situations a little bit easier."
In researching organizations that help families with an ill child, Amanda learned of the Starlight Foundation.
"Ever since I found Starlight, I have been trying to find ways that I could help," she says.
Although the Twilight for Starlight event already took place, Amanda is hoping to stage another film-and-charity event.
"I plan to reach out to Lionsgate once again," she says, "to see if I could possibly do another event that would feature the second installment of The Hunger Games movie series, Catching Fire. My fingers are crossed!"