As part of the Boston community, we at Boston Moms Blog feel strongly that we are part of something bigger than the small worlds in which we operate daily. Our city is rich with incredible not-for-profit organizations and resources that support the many and varied needs of Boston mothers, children, and families. Once a month, we spotlight a local organization that we feel is of value to our BMB readers.
While driving her 19-month-old son, Ari, to his gymnastics class, JulieSue Goldwasser received a terrifying call from the pediatrician.
“I can hear the sound of the pediatrician’s voice as she told us to head directly to the ER and to brace ourselves for a ‘long day,'” JulieSue writes on her blog. “I can see the face of the oncologist who came in to tell us Ari’s diagnosis. And I vividly remember my reaction when she told us he would be in treatment for two years.”
Two years was longer than Ari had been alive. That would put him at 4 years old when treatment would end. But when T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the culprit, you do what it takes to fight it — no matter how long it takes.
So Ari, a spunky, vivacious, curious little boy, immediately began inpatient treatment at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over the next couple of years, the family endured countless medical procedures, rounds of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, doses of steroids, hospital admissions, and frantic trips to the ER.
Along the way, Ari and his family decided to not only share their story, but to use their difficult circumstance to help others. In 2013, they began raising funds for treatments that benefit children diagnosed with cancer through Team Ari. That same year Team Ari was among the top first-time fundraisers to participate in the 2013 Jimmy Fund Walk, bringing in record amounts to fight cancer.
And they haven’t slowed down. Since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised, and those funds are sending a new drug to clinical trial. The trial will be used for kids with relapsed leukemia who are left without any other options. “Kids from around the country will participate, and the hope is that this drug will save lives and become a part of front-line therapy in the future to prevent relapse and death,” JulieSue writes on the team’s Jimmy Fund page. “This drug was literally sitting on a shelf and still would be had it not been for the participation and generosity of Team Ari members. Should our worst fear come true, Ari would receive this drug.”
My family and I will be proudly walking as members of Team Ari at the upcoming Jimmy Fund Walk. Team Ari consists of family and friends, young and old, who continue to rally around the Goldwassers and help raise funds to support cancer research. All the money raised by Team Ari during the Jimmy Fund walk goes directly to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for research and clinical trials. Team Ari is always looking for new members to participate by walking, running, or donating, and we hope you will join us!
This year’s Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk is right around the corner — September 27, 2015 — and it’s the perfect opportunity for your entire family (strollers are welcome!) to participate in. The walk was started in 1989 to benefit Dana-Farber and cancer research, and over the years money raised for research in adult and pediatric cancer has exceeded $100 million. This walk annually raises more money than any other single-day walk in the nation. This year, more than 8,500 expected participants will partake in the 27th annual Jimmy Fund Walk with the goal of raising over $8.2 million.
Walkers have a choice of four courses along the Boston Marathon route to honor those near and dear to them who are fighting all forms of cancer. Participants can begin in Hopkinton town center (26.2 miles) or join in along the route at Wellesley High School (13.1 miles), Boston College (5 miles), or Dana-Farber (3 miles). The Jimmy Fund Walk is a particularly great event for families. It provides a fun, meaningful experience for all and is an amazing opportunity to get even the littlest ones into the spirit of giving back.
Whether you walk, donate, or volunteer, your support is appreciated!
Can’t make it to the event? Become a virtual walker.