The Village of New Hyde Park declared September as Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month last Thursday, commemorated with a tree lighting in front of Village Hall. Joining the occasion alongside residents and village officials were the Mary Ruchalski and Katie McBride foundations.
Mayor Chris Devane gave opening remarks and pointed out the connection between the color gold and childhood cancer, the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. Scattered throughout the lawn, bushes and trees were decorated in purple and gold ribbons and bows with help by the local Girl Scouts.
“Gold is a precious metal, and the most precious individuals in our society are our children,” Devane said.
Next to speak was Jeanne McBride, who lost her daughter Katie at 11 years old in 2008 to leukemia. Since then the Katie McBride foundation has held multiple events in her honor and for pancreatic cancer research. Some of the events include Katie’s Koncert and Katie’s Run, slated for Oct. 2 at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home.
The two foundations also sold lanterns and bows, with 100% of proceeds going to pediatric cancer research.
Speaking about her and the foundation’s goals, McBride said, “Our mission is to keep her memory alive. She was a special girl who deserves to be remembered. We also want to give back to the community that was so helpful to us when she was sick, when I was with her in the hospital.”
McBride added, “We want to help other families that are in the same position as us, and help them through their process.”
Since 2010, the Katie McBride Foundation has donated $417,500 to causes related to pediatric cancer.
Speaking next was Carol Ruchalksi, whose daughter Mary died in March 2018 from rhabdomyosarcoma, two days before her 13th birthday. The Mary Ruchalski Foundation has since raised funding and awareness for pediatric cancer research
In light of school beginning, she acknowledged the perspective medically fragile children have when they are forced to stay home or are receiving treatments in the hospital.
“Some children will miss out on packing their backpacks,” Ruchalski said. “They will have to watch their friends climb the big steps onto the bus from their bedroom.”