MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A family’s life changes instantly when a 6-year-old is diagnosed with leukemia.
But Barry Friedson said The Valerie Fund was there from the beginning to help his son, Joshua.
“Treatments are really tough on kids, especially in this age range,” Barry Friedson told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas. “So the child life specialists were there to help them through the treatments, distract them when they had to, entertain them when we had to talk to the doctors and the nurses.”
And it’s not just the kids that receive help.
“One of the first things they asked us was: ‘Do you need help? Do you need help financially? Do you need help getting to the treatment centers? What can we do for you?'”
The Valerie Fund, which helps children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders, is hoping to raise $1 million when it holds its annual walk and 5K run Saturday at Verona Park.
More than 4,000 people are expected to participate in the event, Bunny Flanders, The Valerie Fund’s director of marketing and communications said. The nonprofit group treats about 4,000 kids throughout New York and New Jersey each year and helps create a support system for patients and their families.
Barry Friedson said the walk is a healing event, too.
“The best part about it was seeing all the kids who are through treatment already and seeing how great they were doing,” he said.
Joshua, now 10, finished his last treatment in the spring and is doing “great,” his father said.
“We’re so thankful for The Valerie Fund and everything they’ve done for us,” Barry Friedson said.
Joshua is looking forward to walking Saturday with his team, which includes his sister.
Eleven-year-old Gabby DeFilippo, of Livington, N.J., was diagnosed with leukemia this year.
A straight-A student, she misses school. But she said she feels fortunate to have The Valerie Fund with her as she goes through her treatments.
“I made friends with the doctors and the nurses and the child life specialists,” she told Metaxas.
It’s not just state-of-the-art medical care that Gabby receives from The Valerie Fund, but the understanding that kids are still kids, even in the cancer ward.
Recently while there, “a few other kids and I, we made slime while waiting for treatments,” Gabby said.
Her team at Saturday’s walk, Gabby’s Gift, is being helped by her local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Her brother, Alexander, will be there, too. “To help support The Valerie Fund and for all the things that they’re doing to help us through this, and also to help support Gabby through this,” he said.
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