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 Walk was the first event Dr. Jill Menell, St. Joseph’s Chief of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology has attended since the merger with The Valerie Fund 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!”
If the growth of The Valerie Fund’s essential services, programs and staff is made possible due to the fundraising successes, 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, Naked Juice, Eppes Essen of Livingston and The Shannon Rose, coffee courtesy of Rook and snacks by Herr’s, KIND and Bimbo Bakeries USA.
A Circle of love! Walk participants formed a chain that looped around the park’s lake. The last of more than 200 teams starting off, meeting up with teams returning, encouraging each other, keeping it real. It turned into a mile-long circle of strength, a circle of hope and most, of all, a circle of love. The words of Valerie Fund founders Ed and Sue Goldstein and patient speaker Modesty echoed this awe-inspiring vision. In their tender reminiscing, Valerie’s parents recounted earlier community events that may have been small but always came with a big heart. Still recovering from a second bout of cancer, Modesty’s life-affirming speech described the bonds that hold The Valerie Fund families together and 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. Bella, another two-time cancer survivor 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.”
For a complete history of The Valerie Fund Walk, please check out the feature “A Walk Back”