Valerie Fund Event Raised More Than $1 million
Runners, walkers from around the country fill coffers in Verona Park Saturday to support children with cancer and blood disorders.
They came to Verona Park from as far as Oregon and as close by as West Caldwell Saturday to help children facing life-threatening challenges.
The sixth annual Valerie Fund Walk and JAG Physical Therapy 5K run raised more than $1 million to support children with cancer and blood disorders, as thousands of people put on their sneakers for charity.
“Spectacular,” said Barry Kirschner, executive director of the Maplewood-based Valerie Fund, of Saturday’s turnout. His organization had set $1 million as a goal, a figure that it would beat.
“It’s fabulous. To see all these people together, it’s like a large family,” said Sue Goldstein, who along with her husband, Ed, helped start the charity more than 35 years ago to honor their 9-year-old daughter who died of cancer.
In those days, the family needed to travel from Warren to New York to get care for their daughter, Valerie. That meant long drives to and from the city and all the related travails that went along with it.
The fund was born out of the Goldsteins’ desire to have cancer care facilities for children in New Jersey so others would not go through what they did. And their efforts have paid off as today the Valerie Fund supports seven centers in New York and New Jersey.
Lori Abrams, director of development at the fund, said on average, 80 percent of children with cancer worldwide survive. Leukemia is the most common cancer type they face, she said.
The fundraiser featured 1,200 runners who competed in the 5K run, won by Robert Black of Baltimore. Later in the morning, some 3,000 walkers had their turn.
It was not unusual to see people wearing shirts or having banners or signs with the names of someone on it. Among them, 75 people made up “Team Thomas,” named for three-year-old Thomas Rice of Mendham, who died last week.
Kelly Rice, participating in Saturday’s event only two days after her son’s death, said her son had a brain tumor. For her and the others, she said being there Saturday was a way to honor her son.