Old Bridge community ‘Believes in Unicorns’ for this year’s Macy’s Believe campaign in memory of young girl

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AJ Silvestri, Kendall Bresocnik, Kerryann Silvestri, and Jillian Bresocnik pose in front of a mailbox in the East Brunswick Macy's store last December.PHOTO COURTESY OF LORI LUICCI
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AJ Silvestri, Kendall Bresocnik, Kerryann Silvestri, and Jillian Bresocnik pose in front of a mailbox in the East Brunswick Macy's store last December.PHOTO COURTESY OF LORI LUICCI
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OLD BRIDGE – AJ Silvestri, a junior at Old Bridge High School, is teaming up with one of his biggest supporters, Jillian Bresocnik, a fifth grader at Southwood Elementary School, to spearhead his annual letter campaign for Make-A-Wish through Macy’s Believe campaign.

Jillian and her sister, Kendall, were among AJ’s biggest supporters. The Bresocnik family wrote and collected more than 15,000 letters over the past several years.

Last spring, 7-year-old Kendall was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. During her brief but fierce battle with the disease, Kendall was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to build a swimming pool in her parent’s backyard. She passed away in May.

In a YouTube video, Jillian explains her sister was “a happy silly 7-year-old who went to Southwood Elementary School.”

“She loved rainbows and unicorns,” she said, adding they are dedicating the Believe campaign in memory of her sister and changing the name to the “Believe in Unicorns” campaign.

AJ, with the help of his supporters from the Old Bridge Township schools, other communities around the state and countries outside the United States, has collected more than 500,000 letters since 2014. Last year, AJ collected letters as far as Alaska, Hawaii and even New Zealand.

Each year he, along with family and friends, drops off boxes spilling over with letters on National Believe Day, at Macy’s in the Brunswick Square Mall in East Brunswick on Dec. 6.

This year AJ, along with co-leader Jillian, will spearhead an effort to collect letters via
www.macys.com/social/believe?cm_mmc=crosspromo-_-believe-_-20201026_20201224-_-AJ_Silvestri_NJ&m_sc=crosspromo&m_sb=believe&m_tp=20201026_20201224&m_pi=AJ_Silvestri_NJ 

This year marks the 13th annual Believe campaign between Macy’s and Make-A-Wish. From the beginning of November through Christmas Eve, “believers” of all ages can mail letters to Santa at the big red letterbox at any Macy’s store or online at macys.com/believe.

For every letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to help create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

Letters delivered on National Believe Day on Dec. 5 to any Macy’s nationwide counted for a $2 contribution from Macy’s per letter, up to an additional $1 million, bringing the total campaign to a possible $2 million.

Make-A-Wish New Jersey granted AJ a wish when he was eight years old. He has cystic fibrosis, a chronic, progressive and life limiting genetic disease that affects specifically AJ’s lungs and gastrointestinal system, AJ’s mother Kerryann S. Silvestri said.

AJ’s wish involved traveling to Las Vegas to meet the cast of “Pawn Stars.” AJ also got to meet the cast of “American Restoration,” a show also on the History Channel. The trip was a week after superstorm Sandy in 2012.

With support from the Macy’s Believe campaign, Make-A-Wish provides children with critical illnesses the chance to experience life beyond their illness and see their most heartfelt wish come true, allowing them to replace fear with confidence, anxiety with hope and sadness with joy. Since 2003, Macy’s has donated more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish, including more than $19 million through the annual Believe campaign.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com