Cancer Walk//photo courtesy of Amanda Barandas, Online Editor.

By: Carl Phillip, Contributing Writer.

On Sunday, September 24, 2017 Bergen Community College held CancerCare’s annual walk/run event for hope.

The event registration started at 7:45am,  and the opening ceremony was from 8:30 a.m to  9:00 a.m.  The 5K Walk/Run for hope began at 10:30 a.m and the children’s fun Run started at 10:45 a.m. It was a hot 92 degree day with clear skies and the sun shining on us all.

CancerCare provides free service including emotional and financial support via online or in-person to all, such as cancer patients and their families. The organization is looking to raise $125,000 for patients and their families.

Erica Lebensberg, who is the director of special events and has been involved with CancerCare 30 years now, is glad to say that CancerCare gives a chance to all who have been touched by cancer. Erica wanted to inform all whom who need to know that the services are free to patients, caregivers, to people of all ages, bereaved and all diagnosis.

Eisai was a sponsor at the cancer walk/run event,  and their mission is to give back to the community and patients. They conduct fundraising through the year to give to CancerCare.

They have been donating for the past ten years if you are interested in donating and giving back contact Susan Streaser, the senior training coordinator at Eisai at the number 201-746-2540.

Fellow Bergen community college student Will Theilmeier of Hillsdale, New Jersey who attended the walk/run said,  “As a Bergen Community College student here in my second year, it is a convenient location for it to be held here at the Paramus campus. The event is time worthy and it’s very good to turnout and support great causes.”

Will’s younger brother 17-year-old Myron Theilmeier was eager to share his story.  In 2013, the guys lost their father Thomas to cancer. Myron is very fond of the healing hearts camp his fondest memory he recalls is waking up at 6am in the morning talking to cowboy Nick (Nick Valvano’s name at the camp) about the difference between a mule and a hinny.

At the raffle ticket table, Frank Semmel of Hawthorne, NJ said he enjoyed himself and it was his first time attending.

The run and the weather was enough of a challenge, similar to what it is to be a patient battling cancer or a family member dealing with the effects Frank was sporting a Hoff’s hearts and soles t-shirt.

Ariana Parmese, who is CancerCare’s regional coordinator, is instrumental in the healing heart camp. She described CancerCare as a wonderful organization that the community needs know about.

“More people need to know about CancerCare services such as bereavement groups, individual counseling and the wig program which is for women going through cancer treatment and are losing their hair or have lost it already,” Parmese said.  

The service allows them to be able to schedule an hour long wig appointment and take home a wig free of charge.  She states the it was a gorgeous day  and she could not have ask for a better day. You can call 1-8000-813-4673 or the Ridgewood NJ office at 201-444-6630 to reach Ariana Parmese.

Kathy Nugent, the director of Regional Programs at CancerCare, has been involved with CancerCare for over 35 years. She states in all her years, she has seen the organization grow to be a national organization.  

“It was a great turnout by their over 500 walkers/runners,” Nugent said.

Some of the volunteers that were there was Nick “Cowboy Nick” Valvano and his wife Claire Grainger- Valvano. Nick also volunteers at the walk/run event and also other various one such as the healing hearts camp Malibu ranch in Milford, Pennsylvania.

In attendance was Joey’s Keeper named after Johanna Garcia-Jerez, who lived 08/01/77 – 08/10/17. Her husband Domingo Jerez and brother Joaquin Garcia were just a few names that made up the big group of fundraising for a good cause. Johanna worked for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield for in the financial department at the company for 16 years.

She passed away at 40; she was a dedicated sister, friend, wife and mother of two. Her son Marcus is 7 years-old and her daughter Kayla 11 years-old.  She was an independent beachbody coach.

“In her short life you could tell how many lives she touched by the support our family has received. We were blessed to shared so many great moments with her and her legacy will forever live on. #joeyskeepers,” said Johanna’s brother Joaquin Garcia.

Johanna’s husband Domingo wanted all to know “I feel that people should realize being in a career helps especially in situations like losing a loved one.”