Medical students in Upstate’s “Peds Pals” program raised more than $400 at Paige’s Butterfly Run this month, but their efforts brought even greater rewards.
Two “little pals” and five “big pals” took part in the annual event named for Paige Arnold, an 8-year-old who died of cancer 21 years ago.
Her parents started the Butterfly Run in 1997, and it now generates more than $200,000 each year for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Paige’s has raised more than $2 million overall for treatment, research and family assistance.
“This is the first year they have had a team, but several of the big pals ran the 5K last year,” said Kristi Griffin, Education Specialist at the Waters Center. “Paige’s donates over $20,000 for my Champions Again Fund that includes Peds Pals. This fund is also used for support for neuropsychological evaluations and educational advocacy for our patients.”
Medical students Gabby Izzo, Joe DeMari, Kethia Eliezer and Victoria Fairchild (Peds Pal team organizer) took part in Paige’s Butterfly Run, as did Griffin’s graduate assistant, Heather Potts.
Gabby, Joe and Kethia shared their thoughts on sharing the event with their “little pals.”
“To me, taking part in Paige’s Butterfly Run is a chance to give back to and to stay involved with the SUNY Upstate Medical University community,” said Kethia, who walked the 3K with little pal Eliza Juma. “I explained to Eliza what the walk was all about and what it meant. She just smiled and said, ‘OK.’ She is a girl of few words and it was her first time ever participating in something like that, but I saw how excited she was to be part of it and be around all those people.”
Gabby and Joe composed the following after running the 3K with little pal Connor Licamele:
“Paige’s Butterfly Run is about honoring the children who have had to endure the fight against pediatric cancer. The opportunity to participate in the race with Connor, the survivor we have grown to know and love, was truly a special experience for both of us. Although in the past Connor would walk the race with his loved ones, this year he decided he wanted to run.
“Words cannot express how excited Connor was to run the race, and we were equally thrilled that he wanted to run it with us, his Peds Pals. As we neared the finish line, we decided that we would sprint to the end. Connor got tired but he didn’t give up; with his eyes closed, he could not have been more determined to finish. As we crossed the finish line, Connor’s tongue out and breathing hard, he broke into a huge smile and we could tell how accomplished he felt having run the whole race.
“Connor’s determination to run was not unlike his determination to beat cancer, and we were so honored to have been able to participate in Paige’s run with such a wonderful and inspiring young man.”