Go4theGoal Grants End of Life Requests to Dying Pediatric Cancer Patients

MERCHANTVILLE, N.J., Oct. 4, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Imagine being five years old and knowing that you may not live until your next birthday. Sadly, this occurs much too often for children battling cancer. Social workers in pediatric oncology units across the country struggle with this every day and look for creative ways to honor terminally ill children at the end of their lives.

Enter Go4theGoal Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation that, among its many supportive services, grants end of life requests to terminally ill children. G4G receives requests every year for kids of all ages, and so far, thanks to their public fundraising efforts and generosity of its private donors, have been able to grant each and every one.

"We were approached by Margaret Szabo, MSW, LSW Pediatric Oncology Social Worker at Children's Hospital University of Illinois with a request to throw a "birthday party" for a little girl suffering with Wilms Tumor (kidney cancer) whose wish was to have a Princess Party for her sixth birthday. Although her birthday was in in May, it was unlikely that she would live until then," said Beth Stefanacci, Go4theGoal's founder and executive director. "We immediately stepped right up and funded a Disney Princess Party complete with special gifts, a sparkly tiara and princess decorations for her room along with cake and snacks for her friends, family and hospital staff. "She was very ill and in a lot of pain that day, but rallied and smiled for a couple of very special hours while those around her celebrated her life."

Kennedy, a lovely 15 year-old cancer patient at Children's Hospital at Erlanger in Kentucky wanted a Sweet 16 celebration for her upcoming October birthday, but who had recently received the devastating news that she may not survive until then. Her social worker reached out to Go4theGoal, and within 48 hours, Kennedy and 20 members of her family were whisked off to a beautiful eight-bedroom fully-stocked cabin in the Smoky Mountains complete with game room, hot tubs and movie viewing room where they spent several days together, creating memories that will last in their hearts and minds forever.

While some of the wishes Go4theGoal receives are quite elaborate, such as sending a child and their family on a special vacation, as they did for Kimberly, whose wish was to travel to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida to meet Winter the Dolphin, of Warner Brother's cinematic hit Dolphin Tale, some are quite simple.

All Shayla wanted was a free-standing hammock so she could rest comfortably in the shade of her back yard snuggled up to her mom and her closest family and friends. The past year has been particularly difficult for Shayla, as her family had relocated from the Carolinas to the Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia area so she could be treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where they specialize in her particular type of cancer. So when Go4theGoal was approached by a member of Shayla's church, who had recently learned of Go4theGoal from the owner of the UPS Store in Cherry Hill, G4G made all of the arrangements to have the hammock delivered and set up in her back yard the following day. "As soon as Shayla settled into her hammock, you could see her relax and just enjoy the moment. She spends as much time there as she can. It is a special place where she is comfortable and finds peace," said her mom.

"Go4theGoal is dedicated to making the lives of children affected by cancer achieve their goals. If it is a dying child's goal to relax on a comfy hammock in the warm breeze of their backyard, celebrate a birthday or to swim with the dolphins, that's what we we'll do," added Stefanacci.


Go4theGoal Foundation (Go4theGoal.org) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charitable organization founded in 2006 by Dr. Richard and Beth Stefanacci, soon after their oldest child was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Together with funds raised privately and it's many unique awareness and fundraising campaigns, including National Dress 4 Pediatric Cancer Day®, Lace-Up 4 Pediatric Cancer® and Richard's Run® 5K runs, Go4theGoal provides children undergoing cancer treatment and their families with financial assistance, runs fun hospital-based programs, grants special wishes and supplies state-of-the-art electronic products to children and pediatric oncology units in over 40 hospitals across the country. Since 2007, G4G has funded over $500,000 in innovative pediatric cancer research.

Contact: Randy Pickus
Email: randypickus@go4thegoal.org
Tel: (508) 269-8795

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The following pictures are available for download:

[Image] Shayla and her mom snuggling in her new hammock.
[Image] Kimberly meets Winter the Dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
[Image] Kennedy, celebrating her
Source:Go4theGoal Foundation