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Date: August 2 2006


For the last six years hundreds of students from Hillsdale’s three grammar schools have raised money for children with cancer and other serious illnesses by walking in the Kids Cancer Walk.

The walk was started in 2001 by Hillsdale resident Jon Frantin. Then 8 years old, he was disappointed that he was too young to join his mother in the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk.

He decided to start his own walk-a-thon with children participants to benefit other children who have cancer. Each walk takes months of preparation, including the production of advertising fliers, solicitation of donations and meetings with the mayor and council, police chief and parent-teacher organizations.

“There’s a lot that does into it,” he says, “but there’s a lot you get out of it.”

Students from Smith, Meadowbrook, and George White schools walk along a route that has the older George White students walking about three miles and the younger students walking 1.5 miles. They raise money by asking parents and other family and friends to sponsor them.

The walk has raised a total of $38,000 over the last six years, says Jenny Frantin, Jon’s mother, adding that this year’s walked raised $6,590.

In addition to the efforts of walkers and generosity of sponsors, the walk has also benefited from support throughout Hillsdale. The Hillsdale Board of Education provides bus to return walkers to their starting points, and the police department provides escorts. Businesses donate small gifts for participating children who win a raffle and pizza for homerooms with the highest participation rates.

Each year half of the proceeds have gone to the Butterflies Program at Valley Home Care, a pediatric home care program for children who progressive, life threatening illnesses.
While much of the care provided by the Butterfly Program is covered by children’s health insurance, some services required volunteers and outside funding, explains program coordinator Mary Ann West. Donations such as those from the Kids Can Cancer Walk allow the program to provide extensive services without becoming a “drain on the system,” West says.

“Donations such as these let us get the things kids need to stay at home and stay comfortable if insurance doesn’t cover it.” she says.

Next year, the walk will be run by the Pascack Junior Woman’s Club and will become more regional in scope, Jennifer says. Half of the proceeds from each walk will continue to benefit the Butterflies Programs.

For the first three years of the walk, the other half of the proceeds from the sixth walk will go to Noah’s Gifts Foundation in the memory of one of those children, who passed away in October.

Pascack Valley resident Lisa Price was inspired to create this foundation after the loss of her son, Noah, who she says is remembered by hundreds of people because of his “contagious smile and extremely giving nature.”

“He made you feel you were the only one in the world who mattered,” Price says. “He was the most loving person anyone had ever met.”

The foundation’s mission is to help families who have children with cancer and other serious illnesses and to provide funds for pediatric cancer research, Price explains.

Each month social workers from various hospital apply to the foundation on behalf of families who need donations of time or money. The foundation might pay for an electric bill, for example. One family was helped with a gift of freshly cooked meals and grocery store gift cards.

“You just try and take a little bit of the burden away,” Price says.

The foundation has about 150 members who serve on various committees, including a youth leadership division and a respite committee whose members volunteer to stay with the sick child for a few hours so parents can attend to other responsibilities.

“We’re not able to work miracles,” Price says, “but we want to do whatever we can.”


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