John Theissen Children's Foundation opens Family Fun Center in Wantagh

For founder John Theissen, the chance to open the center to families of underprivileged and sick children is a dream come true.

Jon Dowding

Apr 19, 2024, 2:24 AM

Updated 37 days ago

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The John Theissen Children’s Foundation opened its long-awaited Family Fun Center in Wantagh, surrounded by the community members who helped make it happen.
For founder John Theissen, the chance to open the center to families of underprivileged and sick children is a dream come true.
The Wantagh native overcame cancer as a teen and has dedicated his life to helping others.
"I get emotional because the kids need me,” said founder John Theissen. "It's the Family Fun Center and I want kids to walk in through the doors and forget about any issues they're going through."
The center has everything any kid could imagine, like arcade games, a movie viewing area, arts and crafts, dispensers filled with candy and a Wish Room filled with toys.
"We take anything new for children and infants to 17 years old across Long Island," said Theissen.
Carolyn Rochel first met Theissen as her daughter Katelyn battled leukemia three different times. Before Katelyn started treatment for a third time, Theissen threw a huge party for her.
"We were going through this incredibly difficult time, but to see the smile on her face was amazing,” said Rochel.
David Moll remembers helping Theissen when all they had was a tent to collect toys over 20 years ago. He says seeing this is not only a dream come true for Theissen, but for all those they can help on the island.
"Children who are sick cannot go to places like Chuck E. Cheese's cause they're immunocompromised,” said Moll. “This gives them the environment where, even though they're not feeling well and they're battling their illnesses, they can sit here and have a great time."
As Theissen opens the doors to help more families, those he's cared for have a message for him.
"I want to thank John for everything he's done, especially for my family,” said Rochel. “He really gave us some happy times in some of our darkest days."
The center is open seven days a week. Those who would like help from foundation can contact them here


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