Maplewood, N.J., June 27 , 2016- More than 4,000 people came to Essex County's Verona Park on Saturday, June 11th to celebrate the courage and resilience of children in our area being treated for cancer and blood disorders. The Valerie Fund Walk & JAG Physical Therapy 5K Run is a fine example of a small community event with a big heart and over the last five years a total of $5,352,500 has been raised.
The grass root efforts of hundreds of teams, individuals and local businesses are responsible for the Walk/5K Run's success, now in its 11th year. Generous corporate sponsors include JAG Physical Therapy, Atlantic Health, RWJ Barnabas Health, U.S. Trust - Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Investors Bank and new this year, sponsorship support from The Dannon Company. Burger King and a trio of ShopRite families---Inserra, Saker and Village have brought fundraising for The Valerie Fund into their restaurants and stores during promotional campaigns at registers which has generated more than half a million dollars to date.
The popularity of the Walk/5K Run and other events throughout the year enables The Valerie Fund to maintain one of the largest health care networks of its kind in the country. There are seven, not-for-profit Valerie Fund Centers located in New Jersey, New York and metropolitan Philadelphia including a new center opening on July 1st at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. The Walk was the first event Dr. Jill Menell, St. Joseph's Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology has attended since the merger was finalized and she was intrigued. "I thought the Walk was an amazing event," she said. "I was overwhelmed by the support that The Valerie Fund has and was caught up in the energy of it all!! We are so excited and proud to be the newest member of such a great organization!"
Celebrating 40 years of caring for children with life-threatening diseases. After their nine-year-old daughter Valerie succumbed to cancer, Sue and Ed Goldstein were determined that no family should have to travel great distances to receive state-of-the-art medical care. Along with a group of close friends, they began fundraising efforts from their living room---tireless work that would lead to the 1977 opening of New Jersey's first pediatric oncology facility at Summit Overlook's Hospital.
Today, more than 4,000 children with cancer and blood disorders benefit immeasurably by receiving their medical treatment close to home in a child-centered environment. The Valerie Fund ensures they do not have to rely on insurance reimbursements to receive a range of customized therapeutic services. The multi-discipline staff helps patients and families navigate the challenges faced at diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond and includes social workers, child life specialists, educational liaisons, integrated medicine and palliative care specialists among others.
If the growth of The Valerie Fund services and staff is made possible due to the success of their fundraising, increased awareness is responsible for the rise in attendance and financial support. During the weeks leading up to The Valerie Fund Walk/5K Run, Clear Channel and Outfront Media provided billboards and WCBS Newsradio 880 ran features about patients and their families. These PSA's were also shown in over 600 area theatres on 7000 movie screens courtesy of Screen Vision Media.
On the day of the Walk/5K Run, WCBS-TV weatherman John Elliott broadcast live from Verona Park and WCBS-TV reporter and co-anchor for WLNY-TV Alice Gainer took on the role of Master of Ceremonies. The highly anticipated performance by six musicians donating their services through Gallant Entertainment, representatives for the NY Giants Drum Line did not disappoint. Other in kind donations that were crowd pleasers included food by Best Provision, Eppes Essen of Livingston and The Shannon Rose, coffee courtesy of Rook and snacks by Herr's, KIND and Bimbo Bakeries USA.
The Walk reinforces the belief that no one is alone in their battle against a life-threatening disease. Patients, family and friends begin looking forward to the day of the Walk months earlier during the September kick off of Childhood Cancer Awareness month. The desire to attend is so strong that patients may beg their doctors to be released from the hospital. Two-time cancer survivor Bella had surgery just five days prior and upon discharge she requested a wheelchair so she could go to the Walk. Her mother said, "She was determined to be there no matter what and she was! It was a bit exhausting for all of us after the week we had just been through but that's how much it meant to Bella and so we went."
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