SYRACUSE — They say laughter is the best medicine, and the Engle family is hoping to bring some healing to Central New York with the inaugural Griffin’s Guardians comedy night on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Nationally known podcaster and comedian Matt Bellassai headlines the event, which takes place at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Also on the bill is Nick Marra, a comedian who lives in North Syracuse. Rounding out the ranks are Monique Moses, Ed Popski and Dan Viola.
Erin Engle, founder of Griffin’s Guardians and mother of the late Griffin Engle, said the family’s foundation was born out of trying to make something good come out of Griffin’s passing from a rare brain cancer in 2014.
“You can take two paths on that journey,” she said of losing a child. “It could break you and it can take you down, or you can find the good. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, find joy in things.”
The Engles chose to do the latter, celebrating Griffin’s memory while raising money for CNY families battling pediatric cancer.
While COVID paused Griffin’s Guardians’ major fundraisers, the Gold Tie Gala and Soccer Shoot-Out, the need for support remains. The risks of COVID are multiplied for pediatric cancer patients with vulnerable immune systems, and families are dealing with greater economic strain as well.
“Our families that we’re helping are needing more help,” Engle said. “Some of our parents had to quit a job or take leave because they couldn’t risk bringing those germs home. Pediatric cancer doesn’t take a pause because a pandemic has hit.”
Fortunately, Engle said, the businesses and community members who support Griffin’s Guardians have kept the organization going.
“We’ve been extremely lucky that our supporters have not wavered, even during COVID,” she said.
One such supporter is Callahan, Flanagan, Smith, and Stock Orthodontics, the presenting sponsor of the Nov. 13 comedy night.
“They are super loyal and give back to the community. They’ve been super supportive since day one,” Engle said.
As the pandemic continues, people are still reeling from isolation, working from home and the disruption of school schedules.
“Having a night of laughter — getting rid of all that negativity — is just a great opportunity,” Engle said.
Nick Marra, of North Syracuse, is one of the comedians in the Nov. 13 lineup. The mission of Griffin’s Guardians resonated with him because his daughter has had health issues.
“I understand what it’s like to have a child that’s in the hospital,” he said. “It’s the little things that people don’t think about that make it …….