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Turning tragedy into philanthropy : Downtown merchant hosts fundraiser to honor late cousin


Photo By: Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Photos By Ellie Van Houtte/Town CrierNikolina Bergstrom is raising funds for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital after her cousin, Stephen Dorcich died from an immunodeficiency disorder.

Nikolina Bergstrom is seeking to turn a family tragedy into triumph for children with pediatric immunodeficiency disorders.

Bergstrom, owner of Apricot Lane clothing boutique at 315 Main St., is scheduled to host “A Toast to Children’s Health,” a cocktail reception and fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for the Primary Immunodeficiency Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. The event is slated 6-9 p.m. Nov. 10 at her retail store.

Bergstrom said she was inspired by the untimely 2009 death of her infant cousin, 2-year-old Stephen Dorcich, who was diagnosed with the genetic immunodeficiency disorder Hyper IGM, CD40 Ligand. The disorder, discovered shortly after Stephen was hospitalized with pneumonia at 6 months old, prevents the body’s immune system from fighting off even basic illnesses like the common cold.

“He could’ve died that night,” Bergstrom said of her cousin’s hospitalization for pneumonia. “He did get better, but they later ran tests and found that he had this very serious (disorder).”

In need of a bone-marrow transplant to gain better quality of life, Stephen’s parents – Los Altos residents Marie and Stephen Dorcich – admitted him to the Stem Cell Transplant Unit at Packard shortly after his second birthday. Shortly after receiving the transplant, however, he contracted veno-occlusive disease, which obstructs the small veins of the liver. Later, Stephen also contracted Cytomegalovirus.

The illnesses, Bergstrom recalled, took a toll on her infant cousin, who passed away May 16, 2009, 100 days after being admitted to the hospital.

“There’s nothing worse,” Bergstrom said of her cousin’s death. “I see his picture now and I just tear up. I’ve got his picture all over the place. It’s still hard.”

Bergstrom said that while she doesn’t have any specific fundraising goals, she hopes to turn the event into an annual occurrence that raises more money each year. To that end, Bergstrom said she’s donating 20 percent of all sales during the event to the hospital.

In addition, Bergstrom will raffle off a five-day trip to the Bahamas and is also accepting individual donations to the hospital from guests. The first 50 guests, she added, will receive special gift bags. Stephen’s parents and extended family will be there to honor him.

And while Bergstrom doesn’t have any specific goals for her inaugural event, she does have a larger dream in mind – that her efforts, and those of others, help lead to medical advances to combat pediatric immunodeficiency disorders.

“You see so many ill children when you’re (at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital),” she said. “It’s not a place where children should be. Hopefully, when my children have their children, this thing can be cured.”

For more information or to make a donation, visit give.supportlpch.org/goto/apricotlane.

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