Ten years ago, tragedy transformed the lives of a local television reporter and his family. Mark Mulholland, who covers Saratoga Springs and the North Country for NBC affiliate NewsChannel 13, lost his wife, Kelly, to breast cancer. Kelly was just 37 at the time and the mother to two young children, Connor and McKenna. Mulholland and his kids decided to turn their loss into Kelly’s Angels, a nonprofit charity that raises funds for Capital Region kids and families impacted by cancer and other serious illnesses. This January marks the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate the achievement, Kelly’s Angels is throwing a “10 Years of Love Gala” at Saratoga’s Canfield Casino on Saturday, January 18.
“This is going to be a big party,” says Mulholland, who founded Kelly’s Angels in January 2009. “This gala will pay tribute to all of our contributors and friends whose generosity has made possible all of the help we’ve given local kids and families so far.” The 10 Years of Love Gala will feature a cocktail hour, with a signature cocktail, a gourmet dinner catered by Longfellow’s and live music by Capital Region band the Audiostars. Since it’s a kids-focused charity, Mulholland also invited string players from Saratoga Springs High School to perform both classical and fiddle-inspired music during the cocktail hour.
For the past decade, Kelly’s Angels has been helping local children who’ve lost a parent or sibling to cancer with what it calls “Fun Grants.” Potential recipients fill out an application online, and the grants go toward essentially whatever will lighten a child’s heart, whether that be meeting Scooby-Doo at the Great Escape or going on a shopping spree in New York City. “We wanted to put smiles on the faces of kids who’ve endured some dark times, some grief, some mourning,” says Mulholland. “We’ve done that, and we continue to do that.”
Over the last decade, the entirely volunteer-based organization has helped bring joy to around 130 Capital Region kids and families. That figure doesn’t include college scholarships that Kelly’s Angels gives to graduating seniors at area high schools as well. “My late wife Kelly was a teacher in the Saratoga Springs School District, so we thought Saratoga Spring High School would be a great place to start out,” says Mulholland. The local nonprofit now annually gives out $20,000 in scholarships to seniors across the Capital Region.
In recent years, Kelly’s Angels also expanded to include families that are currently battling cancer or struggling with other life-threatening illnesses, too. With “Angel Aid,” the nonprofit provides financial assistance to families, doing everything from helping them make ends meet to paying for family vacations. “We sent a family to a Notre Dame football game, and recently even to Universal Studios,” says Mulholland. “[It goes to] anything that will brighten the lives of people who are really struggling.”
Mulholland’s looking forward to the big gala on January 18. In addition to raising a lot of funds, he’s hoping that the gala will raise awareness for the nonprofit. “We’re always looking for kids and families to help,” says Mulholland. “We don’t like to hang onto the money. We like to send it off and do good things with it as soon as we raise it.”