Freshmen Steve Hillenbrand, Michael Rexrode, and Jules Heningburg visiting pediatric cancer patients at St. Peter's Hosptial.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- This fall, Rutgers men's lacrosse mounted a fundraising effort to give back to the community and support the fight against childhood cancer. The team raised $5,521 and was able to partner with St. Peter's Hospital in New Brunswick to help launch a new program for pediatric cancer patients.
Beads of Courage is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children coping with serious illness. The `Arts-in-Medicine' program rewards patients for passing various milestones in their treatment. The program has been instituted with great success at over 200 hospitals, and the staff at St. Peter's was eager to be next.
"We had this idea for the Beads of Courage program for a good couple of years," said Dr. Stanley Calderwood, the Chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at St. Peter's. "We tried about two years ago and just couldn't raise enough funds to get it off the ground and we tried last year and couldn't get the funds to get it off the ground. It's something we really wanted to do but we just didn't have the funds. When Coach Brecht came to me and said the Rutgers Lacrosse team has done this fundraising event and wanted to donate the money and help out, the timing was perfect."
The team joined many patients and their families at the Hospital on Monday afternoon to participate in a ceremony launching the program. The team visited with the patients as they were awarded their beads, and spent time getting to know the children.
"I think the Rutgers players are getting something out of it knowing that their efforts are making an impact," Dr. Calderwood said. "Having the Rutgers kids visit the hospital and interact with the kids is just incredibly impactful. Hopefully that rewards the team for their efforts, and they'll want to be more engaged as well. These are good young men and the fact that they are giving their effort here is incredibly valuable."
"It means a lot," senior captain Brian Goss said during his visit to the hospital. "Being here puts everything into perspective. Wins and losses are put on the back burner for things like this. It's great for us to come out and help the community and kids like this. It is amazing getting to know the kids and seeing them in such high spirits, they are always positive and full of joy, it's just a great experience."