Overcast clouds and scattered showers didn't stop New Yorkers from supporting the 7th Annual Walk for St. Mary's Kids & Family Fun Day on Sunday, May 22nd at Belmont Park in Elmont, a major grassroots event to raise funds and awareness for children and families with special needs.
Hosting the event for the third year in a row, the historic Belmont Park was filled with staff, patient families, business leaders, politicians, community members and jockeys, who all walked to support the vital programs and services at St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children, the region's leading provider of intensive rehabilitation and specialized medical care for seriously ill and injured children battling complex medical and life-limiting conditions.
St. Mary's Grand Marshals - 13 patients, who were chosen to represent the 4,000 children St. Mary's cares for each day, led the Walk as the crowd loudly cheered and applauded their bravery. St. Mary's Kids were beaming from ear to ear from all the much deserved attention and cheers.
Director of Service Learning at Holy Cross High School, Michael Genovese, was named the Honorary Grand Marshal for his ongoing dedication towards St. Mary's. For over 35 years, Mr. Genovese has encouraged his students to show exemplary leadership by actively supporting St. Mary's Kids.
Today 1 in 5 children has a special healthcare need. To show their support for these children, corporate and family teams, business organizations and the entire community join in the annual Walk in honor of St. Mary's Kids and their accomplishments, or in memory of a very special child.
St. Mary's Family Fun Day following the Walk had activities for kids of all ages, including a classic car show hosted by the New York AutoFest featuring classics, customs, muscles and rarely seen vehicles on display. A best in show trophy was awarded to a 1938 Packard convertible. One of the biggest hits of the day was the Batmobile- considered the World's most recognizable car brought by owner, Mitch Mantell.
Tricks and treats and mini shows were presented by Rick Caran and Jilli Dog- the World's only poker playing dog whose fame spread worldwide including appearances on Animal Planet. Arts & crafts, face painting, games, child fingerprinting stations, live entertainment, craft vendors and Pirate Day hosted by Belmont Park featuring pirate-themed inflatables, henna tattoo artists and a petting zoo, all kept the crowd entertained.
To showcase St. Mary's ongoing partnership with The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), the first race of the day was once again named the Race for St. Mary's Kids.
St. Mary's is thankful for the overwhelming support from patient families, friends, staff, the community, and especially grateful to all the event sponsors who made this day possible.
Those unable to attend the Walk for St. Mary's Kids may still participate and support the event by becoming a virtual walker. For more information, visit http://events.stmaryskids.org or call 718-281-8817.