VERONA — Planning is underway for the 2017 Valerie Fund Walk & JAG Physical Therapy 5K Run. The event will take place on Saturday, June 10 in Verona Park, a magnificent setting for a celebration of children in our community being treated for cancer and blood disorders. To learn more about the event and to register for the certified 5K race and the Walk, click here or call The Valerie Fund offices at (973) 761-0422.
Bella Rocco’s update – Turning Pain into Purpose
Bella is currently student at Parsippany High School.
When Bella was seven years old her parents noticed she was pale, always tired and cold.
When they took Bella to the pediatrician they found out she was anemic. They didn’t think much of it since Mrs. Rocco was anemic. Some adjustments were made to Bella’s diet, gave her iron pills, some additional supplements and thought that would be the end of it.
Thanks to an excellent pediatrician who decided to perform additional tests. The results of the test determined there were more to it and sent the Rocco’s to a Gastrointestinal specialist located at Morristown Hospital.
More tests were performed and the results were negative. Very long story short, thanks to the persistence of the Gastrointestinal doctor, she found that Bella had a tumor in her stomach.
What Bella has is called pediatric GIST (Gastro intestinal stromal tumor). This is very rare among children. The good news is they were able to remove it through surgery and she has never needed chemo or radiation.
The bad news is they told us the chances of it coming back were extremely high. Sure enough, less than two years later they found another tumor. This time, she showed no symptoms. They found the tumor because they were monitoring her every few months with MRIs and knew what to look for. This time the tumor was behind her stomach near her spine so they wanted to get it out before it caused any problems.
Another major surgery, but again thank God no chemo or radiation. Mrs. Rocco remembers in all honestly that despite the fact that she had moments of thinking “Why my kid?” and “How can this be any worse?” the truth is when you get off the elevator on the pediatric floor of a cancer hospital (and they’ve been to many at this point) reality smacks you in the face, you count your blessings and realize this is nothing compared to what other families are going through.
They have realized that they were so lucky that this hasn’t been worse. It is manageable. They are truly grateful for that. You would never know what Bella has been through. Bella is so full of life, strong, otherwise healthy and fearless!
After a few uneventful years, 2016 resulted in new tumors being found and more surgery for Bella. She had plans to spend a few weeks in Italy with her cousins that summer. She wanted the surgery done quickly so she could still go. One step at a time they got through it all-the fear, the uncertainty, the surgery, the recovery. Bella got released from the hospital the day before The Valerie Fund Walk 2016.
Bella insisted on going so we got a wheelchair and there we were with all of the other warrior kids and all of the other parents that are in this club that none of us signed up for. Five weeks to the day from her surgery Bella boarded a plane to Italy and never looked back. She always has been and always will be a rock star! Doing what has to be done and moving forward. Grateful in knowing that it could be worse and paying it forward to everyone fighting the fight.
We all look forward to seeing Bella walking with her friends and family this year. Healthy and better than ever-what a difference a year makes!
To join Bella’s Bunch, click here. Bella’s 2017 goal is to raise $7,500.00. At the time of this article she raised approximately $2,300.00.
Since 2006, the nonprofit organization’s premier fundraiser has grown steadily—in attendance, number of donations and sponsorship participation. On June 10th, more than 4,000 people are expected to again join several hundred Valerie Fund patients and families in recognition of their courage and to spread awareness of pediatric cancers and blood disorders.
Why do you walk? So many have been touched in some way by the devastating effects of a life-threatening illness. The Valerie Fund invites everyone to come out on June 10 to walk and run in honor of your own hero – a child, family member or friend that has struggled with cancer or a blood disorder.
In her dozen years as Director of Marketing and Communications at The Valerie Fund, Bunny Flanders has seen a tremendous increase in awareness and in the responses to The Valerie Fund’s efforts to get others involved. Flanders says, “Everyday people are sharing their personal experiences with me about how they have been touched directly or indirectly by cancer or blood disorders. I feel the message of this year’s marketing campaign, “Why do you walk?” triggers a powerful response since it is so inclusive. The number of answers to the question “Why do you walk?” are immeasurable. And every message rings true, the underlying theme being, we walk to make a difference!”
The Valerie Fund addresses the most immediate needs of patients and families whose lives are suddenly and dramatically upended. Core services provide emotional, practical and financial support complementing state-of-the art medical treatment at seven Valerie Fund Children’s Centers located in New Jersey, New York and metropolitan Philadelphia. The hallmark of The Valerie Fund services ensures that families and hospitals do not have to rely on insurance reimbursements to receive the range of support of a multi-disciplinary team including a staff of social workers, psychologists, child life specialists and educational liaisons. More than 6,000 children with cancer and blood disorders are treated annually—a network that is one of the largest of its kind in the country.
Sponsorships continue to be the foundation of the Walk/5K Run’s success as well as the grass roots efforts of hundreds of Walk Captains and their teams. The Valerie Fund takes great pride in sharing some of the major sponsors’ names: Atlantic Health, RJW Barnabas Health, Burger King, U.S. Trust, the Inserra, Saker and Village ShopRite families and JAG Physical Therapy, underwriter of the 5K Run. We would like to welcome Danone and Global Healthcare Management Inc to our premier fundraising event this year.
Media support is provided by WCBS-TV 2 HD, WCBS 880, Outfront Media, Screenvision and Clear Channel who donate on air public service announcements, radio spots and billboards. Local sponsors will provide complimentary food and beverages and entertainment will include carnival activities, live music, and face painting.
Who can participate?
Runners and walkers of all ages are encouraged to participate!
How much does it cost to participate?
$35.00 for Walkers
$45.00 for Runners
Children under three years old are free
Valerie Fund patients are free
How far is the walk?
The walk is a leisurely 1.2 miles.
How far is the run?
The run is a 5K or 3.1 miles.
What time does the event start?
Registration/Bib Pick-Up 7:00 a.m.
Race begins 8:30 a.m.
Awards 9:15 a.m.
Registration/Check-In 8:30 a.m.
Opening ceremony 9:30 a.m.
Walk begins 10:00 a.m.
Awards 11:00 a.m.
*Please allow 10-15 minutes to walk over to the starting line from registration for the race.