The event is the largest fundraiser for the children’s hospital each year. It takes place at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, with the walk starting at 9:30 a.m. Registration starts at 8 a.m., and people don’t have to sign up before Sunday morning to join in the walk or just make a donation.
“Early first year or two it was very patient- and patient family-oriented because the hospital wasn’t as well known at the time. People who knew about it were involved with the hospital in some way,” said Margie Ostrower, director of special events for Maria Fareri’s Children's Hospital Foundation. “The net has been thrown so much wider in recent years and we get people from all over the community and local organizations taking part in the walk. Still, more than half who walk are extension of patient families.”
Ostrower said traditionally the walk brings in about 4,000 people, and since the walk is less than a mile and non-competitive, she said a lot of younger children can participate in it, or parents can carry their kids for the entire thing. She said the walk can bring in about $250,000 for the hospital, although on a really good year that could be up around $300,000.
The money , for equipment or just other ways to improve the care Maria Fareri provides to kids from all over the Hudson Valley, as well as outside of the region and state.
This year the family fun day will include an assortment of bounce-y obstacle attractions such as a jousting area, face painting and tattoos, a fire truck, a display of 20 Storm Troopers, local dance groups performing and the Iona College women’s volleyball team is going to put on a demonstration.
Mike & Kacey, hosts of the morning show on WHUD are going to be the event’s master of ceremonies.
“They going to really keep the crowd energized and informed about all the stuff going on,” Ostrower said.
While some weather forecasts are calling for rain, Ostrower said the event will go on as scheduled no matter what the weather.
“We’ve had cold, we’ve had windy, we’ve had a lot of miserable weather. We’ve never had a biblical rain storm, though, and some places are predicating that,” Ostrower said. “We’re going forward, we’re going to be here no matter what. Hopefully we get a break in the weather and people come out.”
The Grand Marshal of the parade is Brooklyn Benedikt, 6, of Crestwood, who had open heart surgery at the hospital back in 2010. Benedikt is doing well now and counting down the days until the walk, which she’s taken part in with her family for the last six years.
“Brooklyn exemplifies the children that are cared for here at the hospital,” said Andy LaGuardia, director of communications for the hospital. “We felt she and her family would be tremendous advocates here for the hospital and that’s what they’ve been.”
LaGuardia added that the event is great for the whole family and has attractions so everyone can enjoy it.
“It’s a great way to spend a Sunday,” he said.
Patch is a sponsor of the event and will have the Patch table out on Sunday for those that want to stop by and visit.