BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - This is the 9th year Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center is sponsoring a "Wheel-a-thon" to support St. Jude's Children's Hospital's mission of finding cures and saving children with catastrophic diseases. MKM School Nurse Margaret Berry organizes this annual fundraiser, and over the past nine years, the school has raised $21,000 for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
Last week was the kick off meeting when Gov. Livingston freshman Nicholas Tarabokia visited for the seventh year to share his experience of having cancer and what it means to him to have a great hospital like St. Jude's take care of him. The students were able to ask Nicholas questions. And, Nicholas enjoys visiting the teachers and Nurse Berry, who had cared for him while he was battling cancer.
"A long time ago, I was a student here at Mary Kay McMillin and I had some of the teachers that are still here today," said Nicholas. "Believe it or not, I couldn't run, jump or even play on the playground because I was sick. It was very hard being sick," he told the students. "I was lucky because I had a hospital just like St. Jude's and they helped me to get better."
Nicholas is almost 16 and cancer free. He plays basketball and is on the varsity track team at GL. "I am doing all the things I couldn't do when I had cancer," he said.
He explained to the children that when patients go to St. Jude's their care is paid for through generous donations. "By being part of the wheel-a-thon you are helping kids get better," he said.
These young students now have an understanding of the service they are providing by raising funds through their wheel-a-thon event.
The wheel-a-thon takes place in June and all money raised will be donated directly to the hospital, which helps find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
"In addition to learning the meaning of service to others, the children will learn four basic bike/riding safety rules: always wear a helmet; never ride in the street; be careful near driveways; and always watch where you are going," said a message posted on the school website.