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Valerie Fund Helps Young Patients Keep Spirits High

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This coming weekend, WCBS 880 and CBS2 will be part of the Valerie Fund Walk and JAG Physical Therapy run in Verona, New Jersey. The annual event is a fundraiser for the organization which supports the comprehensive health care needs of children with cancer and blood disorder. All this week, reporter John Metaxas is looking at the people who work with the Valerie Fund and the families it supports. For more information, visit thevaleriefund.org

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - For young people with serious illnesses, the Valerie Fund is a becon of hope, WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reported.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas On The Story

“I always liked math. It was always my favorite subject,” Tyrell Harp told Metaxas. He is following his passion.

The 22-year-old math major at Kean University is studying to be a teacher, but his diagnosis with sickle cell anemia as an infant made his dreams a longshot.

“I wasn’t really supposed to make it past five then they told me I wasn’t supposed to make it past seven. Now we’re finally here at 22,” he said.

He said he survived because of the love of his family and the support of the Valerie Fund.

“The times where I was just in deep pain and I’d see all the nurses and they’d try to make my day a little better and I’ll never forget them for that,” he said.

Now that he’s learning to live with sickle cell – there is no cure yet – Tyrell looks back with gratitude.

“I don’t know where I would’ve been if I didn’t have the Valerie Fund in my life,” he said, and he is looking forward with hope. “Being a teacher, I just always felt like i wanted to give back because so many people helped me get this far and I feel like I owe it to somebody else to try and help another life.”

Michael Fernandes is a typical 15-year-old. But when the Elizabeth High School student was diagnosed with leukemia, his life was turned upside down.

“I hear about cancer all the time. A very uncurable disease. To know that you have it yourself is quite a shock,” he told Metaxas.

But throughout his ordeal, Michael has had a helping hand. The Valerie Fund has been there to guide him and ease his pain when he needed it.

“It was like a sign of hope to help me through this and to make sure I won’t have it anymore,” he said.

Michael’s mother Maria was especially grateful.

“It was just that ease that when you walked in there, they knew how to handle whatever might be on the table for that day,” she said.

Michael is nearing the end of his treatment

“I can see the prize, but I can barely grab it. I can just almost taste it,” he said.

He will soon be free again to dream about his future. He said he wants to be a graphic designer.

Has the Valerie Fund helped you or someone you know? Please share your story in the comments section below.