Last Sunday, more than 600 runners and their supporters and fans gathered at Glen Cove High School for the sixth annual Nicholas Pedone 5K run and walk. The fundraiser — which, over the past five years, has yielded $250,000 — promotes awareness of childhood cancer, from which its namesake, Nicholas Pedone, died in 2013, at age 7.
Josephine Pedone, Nicholas’s mother, said that he was not an average child. “He wasn’t one to climb trees. He wasn’t one to throw rocks,” she said. “He was always so cautious and caring.”
After showing symptoms of what looked to his parents like appendicitis in October 2012, Nicholas underwent a CT scan, which revealed a large, aggressive tumor in his abdomen. After seven months of treatments, he died.
Since then, his family members have turned their grief into a positive, working to honor Nicholas’s memory by bringing smiles to children with cancer. From “smile packs” filled with goodies and toys to hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to local pediatric oncology centers, the Nicholas Pedone Foundation is focused on turning tragedy into acts of everyday heroism. For example, the 5K.
“This year was definitely a bigger year,” Josephine said. “We’re very fortunate to have the community we have. It’s a saving grace, a blessing in disguise.”
She thanked nearly 60 volunteers who worked from dawn until noon to keep the event running smoothly. Josephine called it “one of the most organized” of all the races on Long Island, and credited her team for its efforts.
“This started out, five years ago, as really a neighborhood fundraiser,” said one of the 5K’s board members, Mitch Schlimer, “and it grew, and it grew, and it grew.” This year, the run was more competitive, with the addition of prizes for first, second and third place in male, female and wheelchair categories. “It’s a true, serious 5K,” Schlimer said.
There was also a less serious Kids’ Fun Run, which gave youngsters a chance to support the cause along with their community. Afterward, they enjoyed entertainment, like a juggler on stilts, and refreshments, like cotton candy.
Josephine said she hopes the event will help raise awareness not only of childhood cancer, but also of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is September. “Tie a [gold] ribbon to a tree,” she said. “Start a conversation — anything to bring attention to childhood cancer for the month of September.”
Danielle Agoglia contributed to this story.