Teams Add to Stroll's Success
Stroll’s success proves it’s all about the teams
When 5,500 people come from near and far to celebrate Golisano Children’s Hospital and, more importantly, its pediatric patients, magic happens. Dressed in brightly-colored t-shirts, proudly displaying the name of a young loved one, 17th annual Stroll for Strong Kids Walk and 5K Run teams walked, and ran, across the finish line in support of Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), raising a record-breaking $424,061.
“The teams and families that come out to support the Stroll for Strong Kids are the absolute heart of this event,” said Michael Fahy, associate director of Advancement. “With all of the kids running around and smiling, all of the t-shirts telling a story without needing words, and with so many families sharing stories about how the hospital has touched their lives, we feel so fortunate to have the amazing support from our community that we do.”
This year’s top five fundraising teams were Lauren’s Legacy, Amazing Grace Esposito, Mia’s Marchers, Amanda’s Purple Minions, and Grant for Golisano’s Kids. Lauren’s Legacy, the Stroll’s largest team, for the second consecutive year, raised more than $23,674 for the children’s hospital this year. The top three individual fundraisers were Cheryl Kesel of Lauren’s Legacy, Andy and Eleanor Olander of Lauren’s Legacy, and Jennifer Johnson of Amazing Grace Esposito.
In their first year attending the Stroll, Amanda’s Purple Minions, made up of 88 registered participants, raised more than $12,700. “When we signed up for the Stroll, we thought it would be a fun family thing to do to kick off our summer,” said Liz Conrow, Amanda’s mom. “We thought that perhaps we could coax 25 people to join us. I set our goal at $1,000 and hoped we would come close to reaching it.”
Amanda was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor in October 2012. At 3 years old, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor. During her 11 days in the hospital, Amanda loved to watch Despicable Me, an animated film full of funny minions – the inspiration for her Stroll team’s name.
Soon after her operation, Amanda started a series of radiation treatments. “She was actually able to do all of her radiation and MRIs without anesthesia,” Liz said. “I would lie down on the floor with her at home, before treatment, and we would practice with spaghetti strainers on our heads. Once she understood that radiation didn’t hurt, she wasn’t scared of the process and we were able to get in and out of treatment quickly.”
In April, shortly after registering for June’s Stroll for Strong Kids event, an MRI showed Amanda’s cancer had come back, in both her brain and spine.
“We were in shock, but we knew we still had to be a part of the Stroll,” Liz said. The day of the event, Amanda, now 4, helped her team decorate purple minion signs with paint and lots of love. “I had an overwhelming feeling that day — it was a feeling of being completely immersed and surrounded in love,” Liz said. “While walking, I could see “Amanda’s Purple Minions” in front of me and behind me and on every side. It made me tear right up.”
Fornarola’s Fireflies was also a new team at this year’s event. Made up of 20 people, the Fireflies raised about $2,750 for the children’s hospital. “We knew we had to be a part of this event because both of our daughters were helped by services at Golisano Children’s Hospital,” said Jill Fornarola.
The team name was inspired by Jill’s girls, Olivia and Amanda, who love catching fireflies. When Olivia was born in 2004, she could not use the left side of her body. An MRI showed that the myelin around the section of her brain that controlled her motor skills was underdeveloped. With help from the hospital’s Kirch Developmental Services Center, Olivia had physical and occupational therapy services at home until she was 5 years old. Just last fall, her sister, Amanda, was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM), a rare autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its blood vessels. JDM is found in two to three cases per million children every year. To treat the disease, Amanda has to undergo low-dose chemotherapy and take a variety of other medications, including one that is specifically made at Golisano Children’s Hospital’s pharmacy. She finished first on her Fireflies team.
“We expect to be with Golisano Children’s Hospital for the long haul,” Jill said. “We hope to continue to be involved in any way we can.”
Golisano Children’s Hospital would like to sincerely thank all of the Stroll supporters and volunteers that made this year’s event such a success, especially Abbott’s Frozen Custard, Stroll’s presenting sponsor for the second consecutive year!
Abbott’s Frozen Custard
Elmwood Pediatric Group, Subway
Conifer Realty, Hairzoo, LeChase Construction, Mark & Marcia Siewert, Roberts Wesleyan College Nursing, The Bonadio Group, The DiMarco Group/Admar Supply, Inc, Tops Friendly Markets, Zweigle’s
AP Enterprises, AP Professionals, Cooley, DSS Printing Division, Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., More Than A Game Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Salmin, Celona, Wehrle & Flaherty, LLP, Strong Memorial Hospital Food & Nutrition Services, Tim Horton’s, Tompkins Financial
100. 5 The Drive, Byrne Dairy, Chase Bank, Cortese Auto Block, Crave & Upstate Niagara, French Hills Water, Girl Scout Troop #60336, Medved Running & Walking Outfitters, HealthQuest Chiropractic, Landsman Development, Monroe Ambulance, Monroe County Sheriff, Monroe County Water Authority, NYS Apple Association, Nuttal Golf Cars, Palmer Food Services, Rochester Linoleum & Carpet One