by Paula M. Riley

Kids run in 1st George Fund event last year.

The 2nd Annual Kids Run for the George Fund will be held on Saturday, June 5, at 9 a.m. at Springfield High School Stadium.  Children ages 1-14 are invited to participate in the fun races and carnival atmosphere with clowns, arts and crafts, face painting, moon bounce and more.

Named in honor of Ellen and Jerry Pappert’s son George, who died a week before his fifth birthday in 2008, the George Fund assists children facing terminal illness. The story of a young child dying after a long illness is full of pain, but Ellen and her husband Jerry focus on the moments of joy they experienced with George. Movement therapists from Keystone Hospice worked with George to provide comfort and exercise; their visits included many eruptions of laughter from the young boy’s bedroom.

Creative arts therapists helped George’s family prepare memory books and nurses we available to help keep George as comfortable as possible throughout his illness and passing. Jerry and Ellen want other families with sick children to have the same opportunity they had – the chance to choose in-home hospice for their child and the opportunity to receive a wide range of services for both the sick child and the family.

“Hospice care allows you to be a family again,” Jerry explained.  “Your family is intact, you’re in your home yet you’re very secure your child is being cared for. The nurses visit, the creative arts therapists visit and, when the need for medical care increases, you have doctors working with you through the nurses at the home. You have the comfort of knowing your child is being taken care of and kept comfortable.”

The goal of the Kids’ Run is about more than just promoting exercise, though. “We want to give kids a chance to have a fun time while they are learning that they’re never too young to help other people,” said Ellen.

Last year, those children helped raise thousands of dollars, all of which went directly to helping families care for terminally ill children.  Many insurance plans do not adequately cover pediatric hospice care so monies from The George Fund enable families to receive clinical services, medication, equipment and creative arts therapies that George and his family enjoyed. George’s parents are hopeful that this year’s race and activities will attract many new families. Raising awareness about pediatric hospice is an important to the Papperts as the funds raised.

“Many families, we’ve learned, aren’t aware of the availability of hospice for children. One of the things we want to do is let people out there know that this is available to you, if that is what you want,” Jerry said. “This is a great option, if they (parents) wish to pursue it.”

Children ages 1-14 can participate in fun races at the Kids Run for the George Fund.  Children ages 1-3 will run 50 yards; 4- 5-year olds will run 100 yards; 6-7 year olds will run 200 yards and those 8-14 years run 1 mile. The first 250 participants will receive a commemorative Kids’ Run for The George Fund orange T-shirt, medal, and goody bag. The Kids Run for The George Fund registration starts at 9 a.m. and the program begins at 10 a.m. The registration fee is $25. All proceeds benefit the Keystone Hospice George Fund.   To register go to www.keystonecare.com and click on Kids Run for the George Fund under “Upcoming Events”.