An organization that has raised more than $250 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research is set to hold its 19th annual Walk-a-Thon and Family Fun Day in Madison on Sunday, Oct. 6.
The event raises money for the T.J. Martell Foundation, which was founded 38 years ago by Madison resident and music executive Tony Martell to fulfill a promise he made to his teenage son, T.J., as T.J. was dying of leukemia.
Organizers hope to draw 1,000 participants and raise $150,000 at this year's event in Madison.
Registration begins at noon and the walk begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Madison Area YMCA. The 5K walk consists of a scenic tour through Madison and Drew University.
The T.J. Martell Foundation’s 2013 honoree for the fundraiser is Madison Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Rossi.
The foundation has provided more than a quarter billion dollars for researching leukemia, breast, bladder, brain, colon, lung, liver, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, sarcomas, multiple myeloma, pediatric cancer and AIDS. More than 90 percent of the money raised from the Walk-a-Thon goes to support medical research to find cures, the foundation said.
Tony and Vicki Martell will be joined for the ninth consecutive year by Christopher Mattioli, walk-a-thon chairperson and director of strategic development for the T.J. Martell Foundation NYC, and his wife, Debbie, and their children, Brittney and Skyler, from Mendham Township. Christopher and Debbie lost their 12-year-old daughter, Nicole, nine years ago to Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Christopher and Debbie have devoted their lives to finding cures for these diseases.
The foundation said it is honoring Rossi to recognize his leadership in the community, and the support he and the district provides the T.J. Martell Foundation.
Before coming to Madison, Rossi was previously superintendent for the Lopatcong and Roxbury school districts, an elementary school principal and district administrator, college education professor and a head basketball coach at the high school and collegiate levels. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Moravian College, a Master in Arts and Teaching from Tufts University, a master's degree in social science from Montclair University and a Ph.D. from Seton Hall University.
Rossi said in a news release his leadership style draws most heavily from his experience as a father.
“Being a parent of three children, ages 18, 16 and 12, I recognize the value of a great education and the challenges of growing up in a Web 2.0 world," he said. "It is my sincere desire to combine my professional and personal experiences toward the betterment of the Madison students."
This year’s Walkathon and Family Fun Day will feature food, dunk booth, clown, moon bounce, face painting and entertainment and prizes . There will be live music by Reina; Jade Starling, previously with Pretty Poison of “Catch Me (I’m Falling)” '80s rock fame; and country singer Nikki Briar. A WPLJ Van is expected to be there and Madison D.J. Dave Fiore will also be entertaining the crowd.
After the walk, there will be raffle drawings, prizes, a live and silent auction and a barbecue. Pets and strollers welcome.
Registration forms are available at many Madison, Florham Park and Mendham retailers as well as the Madison Area YMCA. Registration fees for the walk are tax deductible. For more information visit https://tjmartell.myetap.org/fundraiser/19thmadisonwalk/
This year, the T.J. Martell Foundation also is holding a raffle with ticket proceeds benefitting research. Prizes include a grand prize Alaskan cruise for two; two tickets to the Grammys with lodging and airfare, and a second prize New York City experience package.
The drawing will be held Thursday, Dec. 12, at Poor Herbie’s Pub and Restaurant. Tickets are available by contacting Walkathon Committee Members Sue Macheska at 862-812-6543 or Smmacheska@aol.com, or former Madison Mayor Gary Ruckelshaus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets will also be on sale at Madison’s Bottle Hill Day, Saturday, Oct. 5.