Harrison Township ‘Goes Gold’ for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Residents will see a number of gold ribbons throughout town as an effort to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research

Kelly Redkoles (right) and her son Nicholas, 4, are pictured hanging yellow ribbons at the Harrison Township Municipal Building on Sept. 7 to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer, at an average age of 6 years old, with approximately 300,000 diagnosed each year, according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. To raise awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September, residents will see gold ribbons throughout town to remind them of the families and children who are suffering every day.

Mullica Hill resident Kelly Redkoles brought the national Go Gold initiative to Harrison Township four years ago after hearing of a friend’s daughter who was diagnosed with cancer, later receiving a transplant from her brother as a donor to survive. Redkoles said this prompted her to want to be more active and raise awareness for the conditions children and their families have to live through during a diagnosis.

Redkoles said the main focus of the initiative is to raise awareness for how underfunded childhood cancer research is, when compared to adult cancer research.

According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, by the time children who received treatment are 30 or 40 years old, more than “95 percent will have a chronic health problem, and 80 percent will have severe or life-threatening conditions.”

Redkoles said childhood cancer research only receives 4 percent of federal funding, and since 1980, only three drugs have been approved for use in children on the first design.

“I hope this gets people to think about why the ribbons are there, inquire about it and talk about it,” Redkoles said. “Once they understand why it’s necessary to do this, I think hopefully they’d make the decision to research it more or make a donation.”

Gold ribbons, the recognized symbol for childhood cancer, were donated by local business owners Gino and June Giumarello, In the Village — A Fine Salon & Day Spa, and hung along the Main Street flower urns, in front of the Municipal Building, as well as at various business locations. Harrison Township Elementary School has also been involved by creating a “Go Gold” sign with gold cups along its fencing each September.

“I want to show that our township is doing what it can to raise awareness and funds, and I hope in some aspects it’s been helpful,” Redkoles said. “Childhood cancer is happening right here in our neighborhood, it happens all around us; I’m trying to show our support and do what we can.”

Last year, Redkoles paired the ribbons with a link to raise donations for the cause, and she is prepared to do the same again this year. She said her goal is to raise at least $100 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Redkoles said she set her goal on the lower end so it was something she could accomplish, as she’s had trouble receiving donations in the past.

“We want to do everything we can to support the local Go Gold initiative,” Mayor Louis Manzo said. “We encourage our community to make whatever donation they can to this cause since the bottom line is about funding the resources to end this threat to our children.”

To donate, visit www.stbaldricks.org/donate and search “Harrison Township, NJ Goes Gold.”