Why The AJ Project?

Our Story

Christine Perrelli, our founder, lost her son AJ October 2013. He was the oldest of 4, a father to be, an amazing dancer, actor, stage performer and only 26 years old. The AJ Project, non profit for the arts, was set up as a way to honor AJ's memory and help the arts community by producing or sponsoring content to connect professional and emerging artists to our community.

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There are no real answers of what happened and why he got hurt that October evening. The story goes that he was found by a friend outside of his apartment on the ground. He was confused, started to vomit and was taken to the ER. The doctors discovered a hairline fracture on the base of his skull so they kept him for observation. After 18 hours in the ER he was taken to the Neuro/ICU and in less than 2 hours it was discovered that his brain swelled. AJ was swept into emergency surgery to relieve the pressure. The family was told that without a miracle he would never recover and most likely die.  

While in surgery, a post was made on Facebook for prayers. Within 20 minutes of the post the waiting room of the ICU began filling up. AJ's "tribe" of friends began showing up that night and never left AJ or his family. 24/7 there was someone by his side. His friends, his co workers, people he met once briefly and people that never met him at all. Hundreds of people showed up and held vigil by AJ's bedside until the day he became an organ donor. 


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AJ was the oldest of 4, a father to be, professional dancer, actor and stage performer and only 26 years old when he passed away in 2013.


When AJ died, a fundraising page was set up to pay for burial cost. Christine made a promise that any money left over would go to a fund set up in AJ's name for the arts. The following April, Christine posted on Facebook and asked for anyone who would like to talk about a scholarship in his name to join her for pizza. Twenty people showed up and hundreds of others reached out offering their help. 

As the evening went on, they shared their connections to AJ, how their lives have changed since he died and what he brought out in each of them as a performer and friend. Like AJ, many of them were pursuing their artistic passions as actors, dancers, musicians, singers and film makers. Like AJ, they were dedicated to making their passions into a career.

Pizza that April turned into several round table discussions in the following months. What started out as a scholarship fund turned into a full fledged 501(c)3 non profit organization for the arts with a focus on working with adults. From there they have hosted several networking events, resourced assistance for a ballet dancer in need, created two PSA film pieces for organ donation, hosted A Tony Awards Viewing Party featuring guest performers and comedy, produced a burlesque show and hosted two annual friend raising/donor awareness events showcasing amazing talent.

2018 was the first year they presented the Sillage Award.  


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Posted by AJ's sister Kitty Perrelli to honor her brother.

Sillage (pronounced as see-yazh)

is a term used to describe a scented trail left by the fragrance wearer. It comes from the French word for “wake,” as in the trail left in the sky by an airplane or on the water by a boat.  Sillage defines how fragrance diffuses around the wearer, and a strong sillage means that a fragrance projects well. Sillage has nothing to do with the richness of the composition, however, but rather with the diffusive nature of the materials that go into it.Victoria in Perfume Notes

The AJ Project's passion project is #Createfromtheheart

This annual event held the last Saturday in January in Queens NY is an omage to AJ's talents in the arts and his final casting call as an organ donor.  The event highlights local emerging and professional singers, dancers and video production teams.  We speak of AJ's organ donation and high light a local organ donor recipient.  The event also highlights any services, productions and future initiatives that The AJ Project is working on. 

 

 

The AJ Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services were provided in exchange for your generous financial donation.