By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun
10:07 PM EDT, September 25, 2011
Baltimore resident Sean Harris has grown accustomed to seeing doctors and staff at the Children's Hospital at Sinai; they've provided care for his 3-year-old son, Sean Jr., who in March was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
On Sunday morning, Harris and his extended family took part in Sinai's seventh annual Race for Our Kids. The family met up with pediatric oncologist Yoram Unguru, who is currently treating Sean Jr.'s brain tumor.
It turned out to be a family gathering — of wives, siblings, aunts, cousins, children, siblings and children. Sean Sr. said even some of his co-workers showed up to take part in the event. Both families said that the event gives each an opportunity to see the other outside of a traditional hospital setting.
"They want to be here, they don't have to be here," said Sean Harris Sr., who said his son is getting better. "It shows that they support and that they care about what they're doing and that they're concerned."
The Sinai Hospital Auxiliary presented the event that featured 5K and 10K courses as well as a one-mile walk. Hospital officials said the event helps increase awareness for pediatric oncology and during the past five years it has raised more than $400,000 for the hospital's Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
Sinai officials said about 1,000 people participated in the event, which awarded $7,500 in prizes to top finishers in the 10K race.
"We tell the runners that for every step they take think about the kids," said Andrew Levine, race chairman. "There are a lot of kids who can't run who would love to run, and we're doing it for them." He became involved with the hospital about seven years ago as it successfully treated his then 12-year-old daughter Danielle for Crohn's Disease. Danielle is now a college sophomore, he said.
Unguru said that such races give families with similar experiences opportunities to share their stories. He delighted in getting to know the extended family of the three-year-old he's currently treating.
"I hadn't met many of those people," said Unguru. "It's really neat. It's a way that they can appreciate us in another light, and vice versa. We're not just the person with the stethoscope or the blood drawer or the doctor or the nurse. It's important for me also for my children and my wife see some of the families that we care for."
Some Sinai rehabilitation staffers like associate Jean Senior and social worker Kerry Riggs participated in part to commemorate National Rehabilitation Week.
Julian Cohen of Pikesville, who ran the 10K race, said that it is not surprising that races are synonymous with giving. "When people finish," he said, "They feel they've accomplished something for themselves as well as giving something, be it their time or a donation."
David Doy of Owings Mills and his family made the event a Sunday outing. "We had an incident with our daughter, Leah, two years ago and it was quite a scare as far as the possibility of lymphoma," said Doy, whose daughter, now 6, was treated at Sinai. "They did a wonderful job of taking care of her.
"For us it hits home a reality," Doy said. "We try to make it a family event and we try to get the kids to understand that they have a lot of blessings and it's good to give back."