The strength of a community is never more apparent then when one among them is in need. Recently, friends and supporters of the Townsend family gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Lakeview with a very special mission as their objective: to raise much-needed funds to help offset medical expenses associated with a 2-year-old boy’s heart transplant.

Baby Noah is the only child of Brad and Casey Townsend, of Metairie. On Sunday, while they sat vigilantly at their son’s bedside at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, hundreds of friends demonstrated the power of community by attending a fundraiser hastily organized to help ease the family’s financial burden during this time of crisis.

In typical New Orleans fashion, there was a band, a bar serving an assortment of refreshments, plenty of home cooking, an amazing silent auction of prizes — and a whole lot of love in that room.

I was reminded that in this town, where you went to school really does make a difference. You see, it was a group of Nicholls State University fraternity brothers of Noah’s grandfather Albert, good old Holy Cross boys, who set the event in motion.

“One of our own was in need and we needed to do something to ease their pain,” key organizer Larry Palestina said. Larry explained that little Noah’s chances for a heart transplant were greater at Texas Children’s, so his parents made the decision to move him there for treatment while they wait for a donor.

Noah was diagnosed with a rare cardiac condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy. The only hope for his survival is a new heart.

And so they came, to a community hall, with their wallets open, on a Sunday evening, on the last day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, to show their love for a child and a family that many don’t even know.

Grandpa Albert Cyrus was the family’s spokesman on hand and the conduit for this outpouring of love for little Noah. He told me he was coping “with the help of my friends and family and the people in this room tonight. As a parent, it’s difficult to watch your young daughter have to go through something like this, but as a grandparent, that anguish is just compounded.”

If you’d like to help the Townsend family and want to contribute to little Noah’s ark of recovery, visit You may also call the family’s friend Larry Palestina directly at (504) 258-2895.

As Mother’s Day approaches, one young mother from New Orleans hopes that another mother’s courage in grief may lead to the ultimate gift of life for her son. Please be generous and keep Noah and his entire family in your prayers.

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The Advocate New Orleans Community News Section. Email information on your event in advance to