PASCO COUNTY, Fla.The pandemic has made it tough on non-profits and charities to raise money and hold their usual events.


What You Need To Know

  • BayStar Family Retreat was started by Jessica Fisher and her son who had leukemia

  • Pandemic has halted retreats and fundraisers for other families

  • Businesses and organizations have teamed up to help raise funds


BayStar Family Retreat is a local group which helps families dealing with childhood cancer.

The group was started by Jessica Fisher and her young son, Joshua.

Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia at just 2 years old. Now at age 12 and recovered, he works with his mother to connect families going through cancer treatments.

“I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something," Joshua said. "There’s some other kids out there that are still struggling and I want try to help them."

The idea behind BayStar is to give families going through treatment a place to meet with other families for support and fun while they deal with pediatric cancer. Usually it’s an all-inclusive, faith-based retreat.

“The whole family is affected,” Fisher said. “Whether it’s the child going through cancer, parents going through a divorce, siblings going through their own sets of emotions. We wanted to give them hope that you can through together as a family.”

The pandemic halted a lot of their retreats and fundraising.

Capt. Wendy Longman, who owns Windsong Boat Rentals in New Port Richey, decided to help.

She auctioned a trip on her new tiki boat to match a $3,500 donation made by another local company, Gator Cleaning Solutions.

“We’re very thankful to have the season that we did,” Longman said.  “I felt that I have to give back. I had to give back to the community that supported us during all of this.”

They all met for a presentation of checks totaling $7,000.

That money will help Joshua and his mom continue their goal of assisting families going through the worst.

“I see kids batting cancer and they just get to put that aside and be a kid,” he said.

They’re hoping to provide more family retreats in 2021.

Longman also donated to Marjorie’s Hope, which provides backpacks and clothes to kids who need them in school.

For more information visit the BayStar Family Retreat Website.