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‘The best care possible’

Moorestown run/walk raises funds for pediatric cancer research and treatment at CHOP

Special to The Sun
Moorestown residents Jessica Baskin (left to right), Pamela Lowe and Jen Schultz will participate in the run and walk in teams named for their three daughters, cancer victims Lacey Baskin, Morgan Lowe and Annalise Schultz.

The Schultz, Baskin and Lowe families of Moorestown are participating in the Parkway Run & Walk in Philadelphia this month to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and honor their three daughters.

The 5K run/2K walk on Sunday, Sept. 24, will pay tribute to cancer victims Annalise Schultz, Lacey Baskin and Morgan Lowe.

“What happened to us was awful, but I think once you go to Children’s Hospital and you get the care, you just realize that we have the best care possible within 30 minutes of home,” Jen Schultz said.

“We just wanted to give back (to CHOP), and it’s something that we could do every year in Annalise’s name … “

Annalise was diagnosed in 2019 with a terminal brain tumor, called diffuse midline glioma (DMG) and also known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, DIPG occurs in an area of the brain stem called the pons, which controls vital functions like breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.

Approximately 300 to 400 boys and girls in the U.S. are diagnosed with DIPG each year – it doesn’t generally appear in adults – and it accounts for 10% of all childhood central nervous system tumors.

After an eight-month battle, Annalise passed away in February of 2020. Her family has been participating in the fundraiser since 2020: In three years, its team – Amazing Annalise – has raised $53,000 for cancer research and care of children at CHOP.

Pamela Lowe’s daughter Morgan was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, when she was 4-and-a-half-years old. A few weeks later, Pamela’s husband and a friend of his participated in the Parkway Run & Walk. The following year, Morgan was an ambassador for the event, and her team, Morgan’s Crew, was established.

Since the Lowe family began participating in the parkway run seven years ago, it has raised more than $55,000. Pamela Lowe described the event as both heavy and emotional, but one she and her family are proud to be a part of.

“September is always a really hard month for us, it being the diagnosis month for Morgan, even though she is doing incredibly well,” Lowe noted. “It ends up being both a month that we never wanted to be a part of, but are certainly proud to be a part of.”

“Contributing to such a big fundraising event that brings this whole community together – not just immediate families but extended families and friends – on the Parkway to celebrate those that are going through some pretty horrific experiences.”

The run and walk is sponsored by the Citadel Credit Union and held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The races began at 8 a.m.; same-day registration opens at 7 a.m.

The events brings together current and former patients, their families and friends, clinicians and other supporters. CHOP has a fundraising goal of $1.5 million, and as of Sept. 6, $932,805 has been raised.

According to parkway.chop.edu, the run supports the efforts of CHOP’s physician scientists to find new pediatric cancer treatments. It has funded specialized treatment, state-of-the-art equipment, travel expenses and support for survivors.

Jessica Baskin’s daughter Lacey was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2021. The following year, the Baskins took part in the run/walk with their team, Lacey’s Pandas, and raised more than $23,000.

“Lacey was on a cloud,” Baskin recalled of that 2022 event. “ … She was dancing the whole time, and it was really nice to see that after going through everything … I just love that 100% of the proceeds go to CHOP’s Cancer Center, and the research they’re doing literally saved Lacey’s life, because leukemia is so well studied there.”

“So I want that to be true for any family who’s facing cancer,” she added, “or even just to make the whole process that they can find less invasive ways … There’s just so many different things they could have the power to do with the funding.”

September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when parents Schultz, Baskin and Lowe experience different emotions.

“It’s overwhelming and emotional going into Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and sort of feeling the obligation to spread awareness, but also feeling the heaviness of it, along with getting ready to go back to school, which is an emotional time as well,” Schultz noted.

Lowe, Schultz and Baskin shared their thoughts on the importance of the Parkway fundraiser and how it has impacted their families.

“What comes to mind for me is that raising awareness leads to funding, which leads to more research, and that’s really what I keep in mind when doing this and why I continue to raise awareness,” Schultz explained, “because I do think the funding will lead to research which will lead to treatments and cures.”

“ … I just think all the support we’ve received … we’ve been blown away by it,” Baskin related, “and (we’re) incredibly grateful. And my daughter is alive because of the research and the doctors that have dedicated their lives to helping us.”

“ … We’re here, our families went through this, it’s real,” Lowe emphasized. “That feels still really relevant and really important, to gain awareness for (and) to fund research … It triggers that downstream impact of, ‘It’s not always sad on the surface.’

“We can still smile today going through some of the hardships that we’ve been through in the past knowing that we’re still the face of this experience.”

For more information on the Parkway Run & Walk or to donate, visit https://parkway.chop.edu.

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