NJ boy turns negative into positive
As Zach Rice continues his recovery from a rare septic hip infection, he is using his condition to impact other children's lives in New Jersey.
In 2012, Rice was diagnosed with the condition at just 9-years-old. During his recovery, he realized the power of distractions, especially through a gaming system that his father brought to his room at Goryeb Children's Hospital.
While his recovery improved, he wanted to make sure other children had similar 'distractions' as they went through their own process.
"He decided he wanted to start a charity event to raise money to buy gaming systems for kids at Goryeb Children's Hospital," his mom, Shannon Rice, said.
Zach was able to organize the first annual Action for Distraction 5k in 2013, which raised $18,000 to purchase 34 PS3's at the hospital. The inaugural event drew over 300 participants.
He was able to build on that success last year and grow the family fun run with over 400 people turning out in 2014.
To date, the event has raised nearly $40,000 for the gaming systems and their upkeep. In addition, the attention has been turned to organizing music and arts programs for the children patients to serve as another 'distraction.'
"Anything we can to distract kids from their pain while they're in the hospital," Shannon said.
Shannon also believes that running this annual event has helped shape Zach and assist with his own recovery.
"Being able to organize this event gave him a reason to move forward every day," she said. "It's changed his life. It's given him a focus now that his focus has been taken away from sports at such a young age."
Zach has received high recognition for his efforts, winning the NJ State Governor's Award for Community Service and being among only 10 kids to be awarded a National Kohl's Cares Scholarship.
Still, Zach is only driven by trying to help fellow children during their hospital stay.
"I'm honestly a little bit happy that this happened to me because I'm making other kids feel nice," he explained.
The 3rd Annual Action for Distraction 5k takes place Sunday, May 31, at Loantaka Brook Reservation in Morristown. The event features music, face painters, a mobile gaming truck, t-shirts, medals, and of course, a family-friendly run/walk through a beautiful scenic course for a great cause.
"This is what I do. Other people do sports. I organize a charity."