The fourth annual Nicholas Pedone 5K is happening on Sunday, Sept. 4, an event that has brought the community together for the past three years while raising money and awareness for childhood cancer research. The run was founded in April 2013 to help the Pedone family raise money for medical expenses while their 7-year-old son, Nicholas, was fighting against stage 3 neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.
“The run began as an initiative by my nephew and his friend, who were students at Glen Cove High School at the time,” said Josephine Pedone.
The first event raised more than $25,000, well above the goal of $10,000.
“Moving forward to 2014, when we already had the foundation established, we decided to retain the momentum and keep the fundraiser,” she said.
“This is our most important fundraiser,” said Pedone, noting that about 1,100 people participate each year, either by running, walking, volunteer or watching. “It’s pretty incredible how Nicholas brought communities together.”
A lifelong resident of Glen Cove, Josephine said that because of their address, Nicholas attended school in the North Shore School District for kindergarten, first and second grade. “In such a short time, he really connected to the district and the community has given a lot of support.”
Her nephew, Anthony Famiglietti, and his friend are now in college but still very involved in organizing this event, which attracts people from all over Long Island.
After Nicholas lost his fight in May 2013, Josephine and her husband established the Nicholas Pedone Foundation, with a mission to “deliver smiles to courageous kids fighting cancer and encourage them to always fight hard, smile big.”
“Nicholas’ smile was contagious and gave strength to everyone around him,” she said. “We hope to spread Nicholas’ smiles onto other children fighting cancer and provide emotional strength and support to their loved ones.”
Beyond bringing the community together and honoring her son’s memory, Josephine said the goal is to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research.
“We need more funding for research,” she said. “If everyone stands together, we can shake up the government.”
An aspect that they incorporated into the second annual run is recognizing a child each year who is either fighting cancer or a survivor. This year’s honorary child is “Amazing Austin,” who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer when he was a year old. Now 5, he is in remission, but has special needs due to the ongoing long-term side effects from cancer treatments.
Josephine also encourages people to help spread awareness throughout September with the message “be bold, go gold.” Since gold is the color of childhood cancer awareness, those interested in helping raise awareness can wear a gold ribbon or tie a ribbon around a tree.
“We need to be the voice for the children and help advocate for them,” she said.
Registration for the run begins at7 a.m. at Glen Cove High School. The fun run, for ages 10 and under, consists of one lap around the track and starts at 8:15 a.m. The 5K run/walk begins at 9 a.m. Register at www.fighthardsmilebig.org until midnight on Friday, Sept. 2. Cost is $5 more for day-of registration.