The Greek Division of Ronald McDonald House New York (RMHNY) held its Niki Sideris Annual Memorial Walk-a-Thon to raise funds for the home away from home for families fighting childhood cancer. The event, celebrating its 21st year, drew a sizable crowd under sunny skies. Participants of all ages, wearing the event t-shirt, walked for the worthy cause. The day began with registration at 9am and then the walk itself at 11am. The procession kicked off at Ronald McDonald House on 73rd Street between 1st and York Avenues and made its way around the block passing by Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The Walk-a-Thon returned to Ronald McDonald House where a reception with food and drink awaited all the participants. Father John Vlahos, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, gave the blessing. The National Anthem of Greece and the Star-Spangled Banner were performed by talented singer Matina Panagos. Executive Committee Member Spiros Maliagros served as master of ceremonies, thanking everyone for their commitment and support for the Greek Division of RMHNY. Maliagros mentioned a poignant story about a young man named Leonidas who returned to RMHNY years after having beaten his childhood cancer to thank those who had helped his family with the wonderful care and support provided by RMHNY.
Michael Bapis, Chairman of the Greek Division since 2014, and partner and managing director of the Bapis Group at HighTower, spoke about the importance of supporting the home away from home for families fighting childhood cancer and noted that over 10,000 Greek, Cypriot, and Greek-American families have received help through the efforts of the Greek Division of RMHNY. Mrs. Catherine Pappas and Presbytera Tina Vlahos co-chaired the Walk-a-Thon and received thanks from Executive Committee Member Sofia Milonas who presented them with gifts for their hard work. Spiridoula Katechis was also thanked for her tireless efforts with the Greek Division and the organization of the Walk-a-Thon. Also present at the event, Consul General of Greece, Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Cyprus Vasilios Philippou, and Richard Martin, Acting Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development at RMHNY, who thanked everyone for their participation and encouraged everyone to continue to raise awareness and support for the cause. The street in front of RMHNY was closed to traffic for the event which concluded with entertainment provided by the Loupakis School of Champions, whose young gymnasts performed impressive feats of strength and skill in their gymnastics demonstration. The Greek American Folklore Society dance group performed with dancers from Bryant High School.
Founded by the late Mrs. Niki Sideris in 1979 to aid Greek, Cypriot, and Greek-American families with children undergoing cancer treatment, the Greek Division of Ronald McDonald House is the only ethnic division of the charity and now helps children from all over the world receive the care and services they need to battle against the various forms of the terrible disease. The social services and caring environment at Ronald McDonald House New York, the largest facility of its kind in the world, are a valuable asset in the fight against pediatric cancer. The temporary home away from home helps children and families develop support systems to see them through difficult times. The Greek Division also holds an annual Christmas party in December.