Family says old New Jersey law forcing them to cancel charity raffle in honor of son

OLD BRIDGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A family is frustrated as the state of New Jersey is trying to shut down a fundraiser for their charity that honors their son.

The money raised would go toward Jar of Hope, a nonprofit that fights muscular dystrophy.

Jim Raffon has completed races and walks around the world to support the charity he and his wife founded in 2013 after their son Jamesy was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy -- a rare and fatal disease.

But the pandemic has put a damper on fundraising and they say they are down about 89% in the last 10 months.

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So a local car dealer donated a $40,000 Ford Mustang to be auctioned off to raise money.

Raffone began selling 1,000 raffle tickets for $100 each -- hoping to cover the cost of an ongoing experimental study.

But then came a call from the New Jersey attorney general demanding he stop selling tickets because it is apparently illegal to do so under state law.

"My son is dying, I can't have my hands tied because of a 70-year-old statute that was written when the internet was not even being used," Raffone said.

The $100,000 he hopes to raise would help pay for the experimental treatment that could extend the life of his son and other children with the disease. The cost to be part of the experimental study per child per month is $35,000.

The Division of Consumer Affairs released the following statement:

"The Legalized Games of Chance Commission fully appreciates the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of non-profit organizations to continue to raise critically important funds during the pandemic, and is dedicated to helping such organizations sustain their work within the constraints of the law. To that end, the Commission stands ready to provide information and assist efforts to modify the law in ways that are consistent with its mission, and has been working with nonprofit organizations to identify alternatives to in-person events, such as live streaming video of the raffle drawings, that would be permitted under existing law."

In the meantime, Raffone says he's had to get creative.

Jar of Hope is now selling its most popular mug for $100 a piece and giving away a raffle ticket for free with each purchase.

His attorney has warned him that he could end up facing a criminal charge -- but Raffone says that won't stop him.

"If politicians want to put me in jail for trying to save by son's life, well than put me in jail," he said.

There is currently a bill in the New Jersey State Senate that would allow Bingo and raffle tickets to be sold remotely, but it likely will not be voted on until early next year.

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