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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Nicholas Wesoloskie

Nicholas Wesoloskie

Coventry, Connecticut

Nicholas Wesoloskie, 14, of Coventry, Connecticut, a freshman at Coventry High School, turned a school pajama day fundraiser into a statewide movement that in seven years has raised more than $625,000 to promote research into childhood cancer and assist young patients and their families. When Nicholas was a toddler, his newborn sister was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. “From a young age I witnessed her and so many other kids enduring grueling treatments,” Nicholas said. “I resolved to help brave kids like her.”

He came up with the idea of “PJ Day for Kids” in second grade. From spending so much time with his sister at the hospital, Nicholas knew that sick kids wore their pajamas most of the time, and thought it would be nice for him and his fellow students to show solidarity. So he asked classmates to wear their PJs to school on a designated day and donate a dollar for the privilege. The first PJ Day raised $500 for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Other schools in his district and in other school districts soon joined in, and Nicholas began publicizing his concept through speeches, news media interviews and a video. He also called on businesses to support his burgeoning effort financially. In 2017, Nicholas was invited to speak at the state capital in support of legislation to name PJ Day as an official day of awareness in Connecticut. Since that single fundraiser years ago, PJ Day has grown to include more than 325 schools across his state and 50 participating businesses, including 130 Dunkin Donuts stores. “This has become a tradition across Connecticut,” said Nicholas. “PJ Day is here to stay.”