Maplewood charity to benefit from Month of Giving campaign

Photo by Joe Ungaro
Valerie Fund headquarters n Maplewood.

Lyn Goldsworthy describes herself as a Valerie Fund mom.

“My daughter was diagnosed with Meduloblastoma, a brain cancer, and we met the Valerie Fund immediately after the tumor was removed at Morristown,” said Goldsworthy, who lives in Bloomfield.

“They took care of her through 13 months of radiation and chemo and beyond,” Goldsworthy said. “We still see them on a regular basis for post treatment care to check in and see if she is OK and how the cancer has affected her mentally, physically.”

Her daughter, Abby, was 11 when she was diagnosed. She is 19 now.

The Valerie Fund’s mission is to provide individualized care to children at medical centers close to home. The organization believes the most effective way to heal the child is to treat them emotionally, socially and developmentally, as well as medically.

The charity was created after Valerie Goldstein lost her battle to cancer at the age of 9. Her parents, Ed and Sue, were determined to help other families in similar situations gain access to more comprehensive care in child centered atmospheres close to where they lived. Today, Valerie Fund Centers have teams of social workers, psychologists and child life specialists that support patients throughout their treatment to ease the burden so the patient and their family can concentrate on healing.

The Maplewood-based Valerie Fund is joining forces with 129 Jersey Mike’s Subs locations throughout New Jersey along with four New York locations for the 14th Annual March “Month of Giving” campaign to support local charities.

During the month of March, customers will have the option to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar or donate $1, $3, or $5 when placing their order.
In addition, the New Brunswick Jersey Mike’s location will support Rutgers University Dance Marathon and the Hamilton and Delran locations will support Ryan’s Quest.

The Month of Giving campaign will culminate with Jersey Mike’s “Day of Giving” on Wednesday, March 27, when local Jersey Mike’s restaurants will give 100 percent of the day’s sales – not just profit – to The Valerie Fund, Rutgers University Dance Marathon, and Ryan’s Quest.

Last year’s fundraising total was $21 million nationwide.

Lisa Margotta, who is the general manager of the Jersey Mike’s in West Orange and owner of the Bloomfield location, said she was happy to be working with such a great charity.

“Who doesn’t want to help a kid going through that,” Margotta said.

“I am a mom of two,” Margotta. “One son has juvenile arthritis so I know the struggle, being a rock, being a support, everything that comes with it. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. We want to raise as much as we can to help out these kids.”

Last year, the West Orange did about $10,000 worth of business and donated it all to the Valerie Fund. “My hope is to do $15,000 in both stores this year,” she said.
Margotta said she plans on working a 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift in West Orange and a 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. shift in Bloomfield.

“We take a bit of a hit with the food cost and the payroll cost, but it’s one day out of 365 days,” Margotta said. “It’s well worth it.

Goldsworthy said her daughter needed to learn how to walk and talk and the Valerie Fund was invaluable.

“And my daughter loved Camp Happy Times,” Goldsworthy said. “They take a summer camp in Pennsylvania and they rent it for a week and invite all of the children from all of the Valerie centers there.”

There is round the clock medical care and everything is taken care of at the camp.

“You drop them off at camp and they have a week at summer camp like every other child,”Goldsworthy said. “She went a week after chemo and I knew she was OK because she was cared for by nurses from the Valerie Center.”

Abby had her tumor removed and there has been no secondary growth. She is off to college in the fall, Goldsworthy said.

“My daughter was never into arts and crafts but she has now developed quite the love of art and is going to college in the fall as a graphic design major,” Goldsworthy said. “Not only did they save her life but they have steered her path after her cancer journey.”

Goldsworthy said in addition to participating in the Valerie Walk in Verona Park each year she makes sure to eat at Jersey Mikes, especially on March 27.

“My family is indebted to the Valerie Fund, they took care of us when we needed them most and we continue to support them so they can be there for other families.”