Colerain Township Family Gives Back to Cincinnati Children’s

Friday, September 21, 2012

Losing a child is the hardest thing anyone can go through. But one West Side family is taking their pain and turning it into hope for others.

The Merk Family, of Colerain Township, will be honoring the memory of their son, Tony, who was 6 years old when he passed away from cancer, by participating in this year’s Cincinnati Walks for Kids. The annual fundraising walk benefiting Cincinnati Children’s will be held this year on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Coney Island.

Tony was a sweet, strong-willed boy who enjoyed playing sports and spending time with his three older brothers. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008 and received care at Cincinnati Children’s.

“He had a very aggressive cancer – medulloblastoma, classified as stage four,” says his mother, Lynne. “It was bad. He had to undergo six weeks of radiation and intensive chemotherapy at just 4 years old.”

Doctors at Cincinnati Children’s were able to treat his cancer, but it came back in 2011.

“There are no known treatments for relapsed medulloblastoma,” says Rick, Tony’s dad. “The doctors at Cincinnati Children’s didn’t give up. They tried everything they could to help him. We consulted with other hospitals, and we knew we were in the right place.”

In memory of Tony, who passed away in July of last year, the family will raise money for the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute (CBDI) at Cincinnati Children’s through Cincinnati Walks for Kids. Donations made to the family and their walk team members will be used to support the collaboration of the CBDI with the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology in providing psychosocial treatment for the patients and families affected by pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

“We want to honor Tony,” Rick says. “This is what he would want us to do. If we can help just one other family, then everything we have done in his memory has been worth it.”

The Merks, their extended family and friends will come together with the community to remember Tony, while raising funds for Cincinnati Children’s.

Cincinnati Walks for Kids offers a 3-mile or 1-mile walk route. All walkers will receive a finisher’s ribbon as they cross the finish line, followed by a complimentary lunch. Throughout the day, participants can enjoy a festive atmosphere where children can create a helping hands wreath, ride five classic Coney Island rides and have their faces painted. Families can also visit the Remembrance Garden, a serene setting to honor loved ones.

There is no registration fee to participate in Cincinnati Walks for Kids. Each walker is simply asked to raise at least $25. All walkers raising $25 or more will receive a Cincinnati Walks for Kids T-shirt. Additional individual and team prizes can be earned for further fundraising. Each walker can choose to have their gifts benefit the program or division of their choice, or may elect to have their gifts used where they are needed most. All proceeds from the event help Cincinnati Children’s provide hope and healing to the children and families cared for by the medical center.

People of all ages can participate in the walk and can register online at www.cincinnatichildrens.org/walk. Strollers, wagons and wheelchairs are welcome. With the exception of service dogs, Coney Island does not allow pets on their property.

Walker Check-In the day of the walk will be held from 8 - 10 am on Saturday, Oct. 20. The walk begins at 10 am after a brief opening ceremony.

“This is the seventh year for the walk, and each year gets better and better,” says Christina Mihalek, walk coordinator. “You always hear inspiring stories from the patients and families of Cincinnati Children’s, and it’s moving to see how the care the medical center has provided unites them. Cincinnati has such a strong community spirit, and that is truly shown at Cincinnati Walks for Kids.”

Lead sponsors of Cincinnati Walks for Kids include Coney Island and Messer Construction Co.

As a nonprofit hospital and research center, Cincinnati Children’s relies on events like Cincinnati Walks for Kids to help fund life-saving research, patient care and education. Since the walk’s inception, nearly $4 million has been raised for the hospital.

For more information about Cincinnati Walks for Kids, or to register or support a walker, please visit www.cincinnatichildrens.org/walk or call 513-636-2941.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is third in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for neonatology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org

Contact Information

Danielle Jones, 513.636.9473, Danielle.Jones@cchmc.org