Article by Skip Pearlman

FISHKILL, N.Y. – Fishkill resident Dawn Fortis just got the best Christmas present she could imagine.

Fortis is a two-time cancer survivor, and has become an avid fund-raiser for the cause. So when a recent passerby – admiring the family’s amazing Christmas light display on Fairfax Road in Fishkill – offered to make a donation, a light went off in her head.

“People wanted to donate, so I decided it would be great to give it to a good cause,” Fortis told Daily Voice. “Being a survivor myself, I wanted to give something to New York Presbyterian Hospital’s children’s hospital (Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital).”

So the family – which comes out of the house to greet every visitor with candy canes – put a locked donation box in front of the display, and the box has been doing well, with just about every car that comes by leaving something.

They started lighting up their property 10 years ago, but Fortis said “last year it started getting big. And this year it is big.”

It took Fortis and her husband, Joe, around six weeks to put it all up.

But the couple wants to continue to expand, and plans to synchronize the lights to music at some point in the near future, earning even more donations for the children’s hospital.

“It all adds up,” Fortis said. “And it makes a huge impact. We don’t do it to ‘feel good,’ – we do it to try to save lives.”

Fortis said the response from visitors and community members has been positive. “The response has been incredible,” she said. “People have come from all over… I’m just amazed at how many people we’ve reached.

“This is the best Christmas present,” she added. “I don’t even need any presents. I just want to get donations, and for everyone to be here – together – at Christmas.”


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