Raising Awareness For Childhood Cancer [AUDIO]
In 1992, then 17 month old Erik Zimmerman was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, which is a cancer of the brain and spine. His family and friends quickly realized they were in for the fight of their life. Erik, now 20, became of the few infants to ever survive this devastating illness. While Erik has beaten the odds, he still faces many side-effects and by-products from years of treatments he was required to undergo.
"It's not like 'Okay, you're done with you're treatment, you're cancer-free, get over it.'" explains his mother, Norma, "You're not over it, ever."
During the many hospital stays and medical attention that the cancer required, Erik's family saw first-hand how important the care and generosity that others provided was. In 2006, a Ride for Erik was held to raise money. Shortly after, Norma and a family friend, Susan Gherardi decided to launch a non-profit called Caring for Kids with Cancer.
The goals for the charity are promoting awareness of childhood cancer and trying to financially support families in central New Jersey with a new diagnosed child. Caring for Kids with Cancer has had a huge impact in just a short time of starting up.
Their fund raising efforts really got cranking in 2007, and since then, they have managed to help 15 families while donating tens of thousands to the cause.
"Through this journey of nineteen years, you see so much," Zimmerman said, "You just see so much with the kids in the hospital, and what they go through.
The non-profit is totally based of volunteers and donations, so every dollar goes to the cause. Zimmerman has noticed that there is some name recognition for the charity, which helps drive awareness.
"Any way to promote awareness because once you promote awareness, then the money does come in," she says.
While the family still faces hurdles in the ongoing battle of Erik's cancer, Norma does not want newly affect families to feel alone. She says she understands that pediatric cancer can be a touchy subject, and often given minimal attention because it is so sad.
"As parents that are having kids diagnosed, there's no turning away." Zimmerman explains, "It takes people becoming aware and caring to help."
You can get more information on the charity by visiting their website.
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