The patients at St. Joseph’s Childen’s Hospital in Paterson aren’t just patients. They’re kids, and like anyone else in their age group, they want to play and engage. Through St. Joseph’s Child Life department, they have the opportunity to create art, garden, and play with therapy animals through their holistic therapy programs — thanks, largely, to the accounting firm Sax LLP’s Sax Charitable Foundation and its annual Four Miler fundraiser.
The Four Miler, in its seventh year at Garret Mountain Reservation, has raised close to $367,000 to support quality-of-life programs at St. Joseph’s to help decrease stress and anxiety caused by illness for children and families.
This year’s event is set for 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.
“When we created the Sax Charitable Foundation, it was a nice fit. Paterson is our neighboring town and there’s nothing better than helping the children,” said Margaret Henn, marketing manager with Sax LLP, of the origins of the event. “They didn’t have funding for specific programs for the pediatric hospital. We’re the sole contributor to the Child Life department. They have seen in such drastic improvements with these kids just doing these qualify-of-life programs. When we started the Four Miler, we weren’t sure exactly what it would come to, but it’s been an overall success on both ends."
Garret Mountain Reservation is a 568-acre landmark in Woodland Park with a 4-mile USA Track and Field Certified double-loop race course. More than 350 people are expected to participate in the course or the 1.5-mile trail walk going on at the same time. Kids’ dashes will also be held for ages 2 to 11.
Sax’s goal this year is to raise $70,000. Every dollar donated goes to the foundation, as Sax funds everything else from the DJ to the post-run refreshments.
“Sax covers all the costs of the run — $20,000 — so that every participant and sponsorship, everything goes to St. Joe’s,” said Henn. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that we put into this. It takes about four months to do everything, to reach out to sponsors, to get the people to participate.
“People say, ‘why not just cut them a check?’ But we wanted to make this an annual thing that people can get behind. We definitely took the harder route, but we took a hard stance that we wanted to really make this a community event.”
At St. Joseph’s, one young boy who wouldn’t speak with anyone out of stress lit up when he got to play with a therapy golden retriever and spent the rest of the day talking about him to his family and doctors, said Henn.
Another young boy, who was not sick himself but the sibling of a sick girl, got to have much-needed family time making art with his parents and sister during a period when the attention had been turned away from him.
“They have a large emphasis that it’s not just about the patients, but the families together. So everyone partakes in these programs together,” Henn said.
Pediatric patients and their families will be in attendance; and St. Joseph’s Healthcare System President and CEO Kevin Slavin will be running the 4-mile course.