A warm and sunny late-summer Sunday drew hundreds of supporters of ovarian cancer research and awareness to Loantaka Brook Reservation for Kaleidoscope of Hope’s (KOH) annual ovarian cancer walkathon. The September 13th event raised $70,000 in support of KOH’s efforts to find an early detection test for ovarian cancer and to raise awareness of the disease.
Lois Myers, Harding Township, an ovarian cancer survivor, KOH co-founder and former KOH president, welcomed the walkers and recognized Walkathon co-chairs Karen Jeisi, Madison, and Janet McKeown, Chatham Township.
The walkathon’s honored guest was Anita Lo, co-owner and chef of the New York restaurant Annisa and star of Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters. Lo recalled her mother’s passion for fighting disease, especially women’s health issues, as a physician and pathologist and urged the gathering to continually carry the message about the importance of early detection. “I’m honored to play a small part in an event that draws much-needed attention to a devastating disease,” said Lo. “At the same time, I’m awed by the courage of ovarian cancer survivors and humbled by the dedication of their families and friends who carry the message about the importance of early detection and the urgent need for intensified research to discover a cure.”
The 2009 Spirit of Courage Award was shared by 12-year-old Emily Weiner, Randolph, N.J., and Weiner’s late grandmother, Barbara Gettinger, West Palm Beach, Fla. While in treatment, Gettinger organized symposia, formed a support group, established a parenting center, chaired a charity golf outing and mentored other patients. Weiner, who made “Baba’s Babushkas,” headscarves for cancer patients in honor of her grandmother, presented a check for $750 to KOH, the proceeds of her headscarf donations.
Marmee’s Team, with 80 walkers honoring the memory of Mary McDonough, won the Pledge Champions Award, raising $3,845, while DJ’s PEEPS won the award for raising the most money on-line. The Lynda Franklin Team Spirit Award went to Team Barbara, family, friends and neighbors from Chester who raised $4,900 in memory of Barbara Salamey. The Morris County Walkathon Highest Pledge Award for a female walker was given to Carly Ducey, Morristown, and Richard Glacken, Madison, earned the award for male walker.
Overall, some 1,500 walkers, together with hundreds of supporters and sponsors, helped raise more than $200,000 for ovarian cancer research and awareness at three recent New Jersey walkathons during September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The events, also held on September 20th in Lyndhurst, Bergen County at the Richard W. DeKorte Park at Meadowlands Environmental Center and on September 26th in Monmouth County on the boardwalk at Avon-by-the-Sea, were organized by Kaleidoscope of Hope (KOH), a New Jersey nonprofit created by three ovarian cancer survivors. KOH has donated over $1.2 million to this cause since its founding.
Ovarian cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in women, claims the lives of nearly 400 New Jersey residents each year. The disease, which can be difficult to detect, is also difficult to treat in its advanced stages, with a five-year survival rate of only 45 percent.
The KOH “Turn the Towns Teal” campaign, which preceded the walkathons, aimed to change that by raising awareness of symptoms in the early stages. Conducted during September, the campaign called attention to ovarian cancer with teal ribbons tied around trees along the main streets of hundreds of New Jersey towns.
Based in Madison, NJ, Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation was created in 2000 by three ovarian cancer survivors: Gail MacNeil of Chatham Township and Lois Myers and Patricia Stewart-Busso, Harding Township. After undergoing treatment for the disease, the women decided to turn their experiences into activism, organizing to increase awareness and help fund medical research. The Foundation, staffed by volunteers, has donated more than $1.2 million to organizations involved in ovarian cancer research and advocacy. For more information regarding The Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, visit www.kohnj.org.