T.J. Martell Foundation Holds 18th Annual Walk in Madison
Sunday, October 7, 2012 • 6:20pm
MADISON, NJ - On Sunday afternoon, despite the rainy weather, many people came to Madison to support a great cause, the T.J. Martell Foundation's 18th Annual Walk, which originated at the Madison Area YMCA.
The Foundation started 37 years ago, when Madison resident T.J. Martell was battling leukemia. He told his father Tony, to raise a million dollars in cancer research so no one would have to suffer like he did. He died at the age of 19. The organization is one of the largest in the country and has even held events that have included celebrities including Billy Joel and Barbara Streisand.
Since its inception, the T.J. Martell Foundation has raised more than $250 million in research for breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer as well as leukemia and AIDS. More than 90 percent of donations go directly to research.
Even with the bad weather, about 60 people showed up for the three mile walk. After the walk, there were refreshments, a live music performance by Phil Marshall, a silent auction and raffles. The goal was to raise $150,000 and the foundation dedicated this year’s walk in honor of Bob Brown, who is a pancreatic cancer survivor and author of “The Ride of My Life.”
“It’s a family fun day,” said Sylvia Luber, who has been in charge of registration for the walk since it started.
Luber said the idea for the walk came from Carol Baumgarner, who was her aerobic dance class teacher at the Madison Area YMCA many years ago. Baumgarner, who went to school with Tony’s son, suggested to him to do something locally. She then became the chair of the event for the first five years and helped get Luber involved, she said. It’s really a great time and, more importantly, it benefits a good cause, Luber said.
“I like the idea that most of the money goes to research,” she said.
Mayor Bob Conley, who is also the vice president of operations at the Madison Area YMCA, was in attendance, as well. He has participated in the majority of the walks and said although it is a large organization, people need to realize it originated in Madison.
“It’s a great way for Madison to support the TJ Martell Foundation,” Conley said.
Maria Spina of Rutherford, an employee of PSE&G, attended the walk for the first time with her family. PSE&G donated money and sent a team to participate, she said. While she and her family may not be in the best shape, they were going to do their best to finish.
“It’s a personal thing,” Spina said. “My mom has multiple myeloma. It touched home. It was very touching for me to participate."
Bobbi Fernandez, who grew up in Madison, also attended the walk with her two children, Andrew and Cassidy. While they live in Hopatcong, she said it’s nice to come home and honor her late husband, who passed away in 2000 from a brain tumor.