The event was launched by a cancer survivor who wanted to bring awareness of childhood cancer and the need for further research. And now that she's gotten too old to participate in the Kids' Walk she formed, Jenna Miller of Oxford is passing the torch to her younger sister, Cassandra, an Oxford High School sophomore.
The second-annual Kids Walk for Kids With Cancer Walk/Run in Shelton will be held at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Veteran's Memorial Park, 37 Canal East St. in Shelton.
The Kids Walk for Kids With Cancer is a national event held in big cities all over the country. Jenna Miller, a 19-year-old cancer survivor who is now studying pre-law at Marist College in New York, started the Shelton event last year.
The first run/walk in Shelton last year raised about $10,000 and saw 200 people participate. This year, the sisters hope for more participation.
People can view www.kidswalkforkidswithcancer.org to register or donate. They can also register the day of the walk.
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Editor's Note: The following article appeared in Oxford Patch last year about this event under the headline "Search for a Cure is Personal for Oxford Teens."
Against all odds, doctors at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center saved Jenna Miller's life when she was a toddler. Sixteen years later, Miller keeps hope alive that the hospital will find a cure for children's cancers.
Miller, of Oxford, is an 18-year-old freshman (now 19-year-old sophomore) pre-law student at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was diagnosed with a life-threatening malignant tumor on her spine called a neuroblastoma when she was just 18 months old. Though many doctors told her parents there was no hope, oncologists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSK) removed the tumor and saved her life.
On Saturday, Miller will give back to the hospital when she organizes the first "Connecticut Kids Walk for Kids With Cancer" in Shelton.
“I want to help other kids have the same chance I do,” said Miller, who is organizing the walk with her younger sister, Cassandra, a freshman (now sophomore) at Oxford High School. “I want other kids to be able to have every opportunity they possibly can in life, without their cancer diagnosis stopping them. Memorial Sloan-Kettering gives children that chance.”
"Kids Walk for Kids With Cancer" is an annual event that began in 2001 in New York City and has run every year since. So far, it has raised more than $1.32 million for pediatric cancer research.
A “Kids Walk” has never been held in Connecticut, and, last year, the Miller girls decided it was about time that changed.
The event is an “upbeat, family-friendly walk-a-thon” that is organized by teenagers throughout the country. Each walker gets sponsors, and if they don’t, they are asked to contribute $20. Participants can also purchase a T-shirt for $10.
Along with Saturday’s event in Shelton, walks will be held in New York City, New Jersey, Kansas and North Carolina.
Jenna Miller became heavily involved with the Kids Walk in 2011 as part of a senior “Capstone” project at Oxford High School that is required for graduation. She organized a team of about 30 friends and family members, and they headed to New York City for last year’s "Kids Walk" on a coach bus donated by Connecticut Limo. At the walk, Miller had the opportunity to share her story and introduce one of her main oncologists, Dr. Nai-Kong Cheung, to the crowd. Later that day, Dr. Chueng said he thought Connecticut should have a "Kids Walk" and the Miller girls volunteered to spearhead it.
“One of the reasons I wanted to help raise money for MSK was because of the dedication and sophistication they had in treating me,” Jenna Miller said. “MSK was the second hospital I had a cancer-related surgery at. The first hospital operated to relieve pressure on my spine, and left a scar that is messy and blatantly visible.”
She said the first hospital told her family the tumor was inoperable and that she would have to undergo radiation and chemotherapy immediately, even though she probably wouldn't survive to see age 3.
“At MSK, it was a completely different story,” she said.
She didn’t need radiation or chemo, and doctors successfully removed her tumor. She believes the hospital can help many more people like her in the years to come.
“What I get out of helping with the walk is knowing that I'm somehow giving other kids the chance I had,” she said. “Memorial Sloan-Kettering is on the brink of finding a cure, and I want more than anything to be part of the reason why they finally find a cure for cancer.”