SOMERVILLE, NJ - In 2009, Stephen Wurst – then just 12 years old – helped light the first Hope and Remembrance Tree at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s Steeplechase Cancer Center.
The tree is part of a fundraising campaign for Laurie’s Legacy, a fund he established in memory of his mother, Laurie Parlin, who died of breast cancer. The ornaments on the tree – from stars to angels to pink holiday bells – are donated and placed in honor of loved ones fighting cancer as well as those who lost their battles.
On Dec. 10, Wurst, of Hillsborough, will join the Steeplechase Cancer Center for the 10th annual lighting of the Hope and Remembrance Tree, which has raised nearly $104,000 to support cancer patients by assisting with needs not covered by insurance, such as transportation, groceries, household bills and prosthetics and other medical devices. This is a closed event not open to the public.
At the time of her diagnosis, Wurst’s mother did not have health insurance, and the costs of her treatment were difficult for the family. Several organizations helped Laurie and her family with assistance for food, gas, and even their mortgage payment during her treatment at the Steeplechase Cancer Center.
Wurst was grateful for such generosity while his mother fought her battle, and after her passing and with the encouragement of his grandmother, Donna Parlin, he made it his mission to do the same for others.
“If we all donate a little, we can help a lot of people,” Wurst said.
“Stephen’s efforts are simply amazing,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, medical director of the Steeplechase Cancer Center who cared for Laurie Parlin. “The Hope and Remembrance Tree has been a wonderful tribute to his mother and has helped bring joy and strength to so many in our community over the past 10 years.”
To support Laurie’s Legacy, contact the Somerset Health Care Foundation at 908-685-2885.