NEW YORK – The friends of the Greek Division of Ronald McDonald House New York have been showing the love for more than two decades and on March 31 they gathered with staff and volunteers fort the Annual Kick-off reception for the 2106 Niki Sideris Walk-a-Thon.
Michael Bapis, chairman of the Greek Division, RMH COO and director of Development Richard Martin and other speakers emphasized the importance of the May 14 walk-a-thon not only because along with the annual Christmas dinner it is one of their two main fundraisers, but for the solidarity with the children who are pediatric cancer patients and their families that its approximately 500 participants demonstrate.
More than 10,000 children and their families from Greece and the United States who have been uprooted by the unexpected illnesses that force them to travel thousands of miles for treatment have benefitted from the House “a place they could call home in New York… a base from which they can participate in all that the City has to offer which for some moment can take their minds off their suffering…which keeps them sane,” Bapis said.
Pappas noted that last year they raised the most they ever did, $350,000, and that over more than three decades the Greek Division – founded by the late and beloved Niki Sideris, in whose memory the walk-a-thon is named – has raised $10 million.
Martin explained how the existence of the House, can accommodate 84 families filled to capacity almost every night, give families “the best opportunities to get the very best care they can. Located on East 73rd Street in Manhattan and in close proximity to 13 major cancer treatment centers.
Having so many children at the House has been a tremendous boost to efforts of the research hospitals affiliated with them to find cures or perfect existing treatments for the illnesses.
At the reception organized by Greek Division Assistant Spiridoula Katechis and her colleagues, Martin thanked all who contribute to the cause including volunteers like Maria Demas, who has been active for 30 years, and the local companies who sponsor the dinners – there is a three month sponsor’s waiting list – that are offered to the families every night.
The Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral Fr. John Vlahos blessed the food at the reception held at RMC and prayed for all who participate in the noble endeavor. This year Presvytera Tina Vlahos, who also addressed the guests, and Cathy Pappas will co-chair the event.
More information is available at rmh-newyork.org/who-we-are/greek-division.