By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Roughly 3,000 people from across the tri-state area gathered in Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn on Saturday to kick off the inaugural St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer.
The event, which featured a 5K walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, music and games in the park, raised funds to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital find cures for children battling cancer. St. Jude never charges families for treatment, and the majority of funding for the hospital comes from contributors.
The walk was led by Eric Trump (son of The Donald), whose Eric Trump Foundation supports St. Jude, and radio personality Elvis Duran. Recording group Lipstick Gypsy (Epic Records) stars Chris Liggio and John Thomas rocked the crowd with tunes including their second single, “The Cure.”
“I’ve always felt that love is the cure for everything,” Thomas told the Brooklyn Eagle on Saturday. “We couldn’t be happier being here for the kids.”
Anna Samel, an eighth-grade teacher at Achievement First Bushwick Middle School, explained why her class participated in the walk.
“Nearly all of our students have felt the devastating impacts of having a family member with cancer, and two years ago, one of our students was diagnosed with lymphoma,” she said. “Participating in the St. Jude Walk was an opportunity not only for our students to come together and bond as a grade, but also for them to make a positive impact on the world around them.”
Hundreds of volunteers worked behind the scenes to make the event possible, including roughly 70 union members from Local 40 and Local 361 Iron Workers.
“We do it to participate in the community, and help out where we can,” said Joseph Cunningham, a member of Local 40. Cunningham said the Iron Workers frequently participate in fundraisers and volunteer work.
Laura Wallenstein, St. Jude’s regional director, said so many people wanted to join because “people recognize that anything that affects children affects their world. “
Wallenstein said that St. Jude shares its research with hospitals around the world. “So many children are treated with protocols developed at St. Jude, so the walkers can support research locally and worldwide at the same time.”
Wallenstein estimated that the walk raised roughly $500,000.
Three friends from Columbia – Gloria, Jeanet and Claudia – were thrilled to pitch in.
“We want to cooperate with St. Jude,” they told the Eagle. “The people, the kids. It’s for love.”