On Sunday afternoon the Fox Lane Family Reach Club held the 5K Reach for the Rainbow Color Run at Fox Lane High School. “Everybody can relate to the happiness of color,” said Bente Hensen of the Saw Mill River Club after she was among many dousing runners in colored chalk to cheer them onto the finish line. But the real illumination the fundraiser was trying to catch in its kaleidoscope belonged to families who often find it impossible to keep ahead of everyday expenses when their child is diagnosed with cancer.
“We help families cope with financial crisis so they can focus on getting their family back to health,” said Brian Morello, who founded the National Nonprofit Family Reach in Oakland, California after his sister lost her fight with cancer.
Along for the ride, Emma McCormick of Fox Lane raced to the finish line ahead of all the girls and did so under the umbrella of familiarity. “This is a great event to get people involved because cancer relates to all of us,” she said.
“Rick” of Wilton, Connecticut provided the proof in addressing the crowd. When his son diagnosed with cancer last year, he and his family had no idea how they would pay their bills as extra expenses like transportation, tolls, and hotel stays piled up during hundreds of trips to the New York Presbyterian Hospital. “We got a lifeline from Family Reach, and now my son is doing well,” he said. “So you all go home winners.”
Thus, Cameron Stafford of Fox Lane could easily put aside crossing the finish line first and praised the run’s family style inclusiveness. “This a great event because you don’t have to be an athlete to run and it gets people of all ages participating,” said the Fox Lane Junior.
The Guettle family showed that in flying colors. Clad in face paint and multi-colored attire like most in attendance, they decided a day at the races was better than being scattered about the house. “We decided to do this as a family,” said Christine Guettle.
But their daughter Sophia had other ideas about sticking together when it came to the race. “She smoked us,” said mom of her eight-year old.
Putting together the movement, though, did require that no one was left behind. Seth Ferman learned of this issue last year through a friend, and his sons Robbie and Jake have really taken the handoff in getting Fox Lane to join in. “We had so many kids take on special roles, and everybody did their part,” said Robbie Ferman.
On the adult side, Dad formed a group of parents to help advise the club. “Family Reach has gone from a little idea to becoming a large part of the community, and Robbie is looking to expand into colleges around the country,” Ferman said of his Fox Lane Senior.
But as inspiring as the cause looks on paper nothing compares to actually meeting the families that receive help. “Last year I became close to one of the children who was diagnosed. Her story really motivated me, and now the whole family is optimistically facing the future,” said Jake Ferman.
Over 700 runners entering at $30 and $65, the proceeds certainly tally into the tens of thousands. The festival afterwards only added to the fun, while proceeds from local sponsors such as Bedford Village Pastry, Lefteris Gyros, Gianfranco’s Pizza, Frannie’s and Mobile Pie will tack on even more when the final count comes in.
But Karen Turi, New York Presbyterian Hospital Social Worker, put the numbers in real terms. “People come in and have no idea how they are going to make the finances work. Our job is to create support systems and locate resources,” she said. “Our affiliation with Family Reach means assistance is there immediately if the electricity bill has to be paid or the mortgage is due.”
The implications are clear. “This makes all the difference,” she concluded.