More than 4,000 people comprising patients, families, community members and Northwell Health employees came together on May 21 to help raise more than $1.06 million for local hospital programs, breaking a record previously set in 2019. Supporters stepped up across five Northwell Health Walk locations – Jones Beach, Port Jefferson, Riverhead, Westchester and Staten Island – to raise funds in their respective communities for women and babies, cancer treatment, and child and adolescent behavioral health at Northwell Health hospitals.
“Every year, thousands of people across the region join the Northwell Health Walk to affirm their belief in Northwell’s commitment to raise health in our communities,” said Brian Lally, senior vice president and chief development officer for Northwell Health. “It’s extraordinary to see the outpouring of support that grows each and every year.”
A new mom’s journey inspires at Jones Beach
At Jones Beach, the festive day included appearances by Mr. & Mrs. Met and the Islanders’ Sparky the Dragon, a kids zone and face painting. Walkers warmed up to support mental healthcare programs and resources for pregnant and postpartum women at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health (KIWH) as well as plans for a new child and adolescent behavioral health hub at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
Also participating in the Jones Beach Walk was Claire Byrnes of Northport, NY, who shared her pregnancy and childbirth story. After years of being told it would be impossible to carry a baby, Ms. Byrnes sought the help of KIWH obstetrician-gynecologist Stephanie McNally, MD, who helped her become pregnant. Dr. McNally worked with Cara Pessel, MD, a KIWH maternal-fetal specialist, to keep Mrs. Byrnes and the baby healthy. At 28 weeks, Mrs. Byrnes was admitted to the hospital with severe preeclampsia and extreme anxiety. Her son was born at three and a half pounds through an emergency delivery at 31 weeks and went home in less than two weeks. His grateful mother went home a few days later and continues to receive the help she needs for postpartum depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder through the Katz Institute.
“I am so grateful to my physicians at Northwell not only for making my dream of motherhood come true, but for their compassionate care in helping me cope with my postpartum mental health,” said Mrs. Byrnes, who was at the walk with her husband, John, and baby, Edward. “This event is so important to raise funds so other women like me can have access to the expertise and resources they need to live healthy, fulfilled lives.”
Funds support the communities they serve
Across New York, funds raised at four other walks will support hospitals in their local communities. The Port Jefferson Walk supports the Fortunato Breast Cancer Center at Mather Hospital, and the East End/Riverhead Walk will help expand the breast health program and support the development of a comprehensive mother and baby unit at Peconic Bay Medical Center. Funds raised for Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Hospital will help with the purchase of sensory tools for young patients with autism and other challenges as well as support education and assistance programs for hospital team members. The Staten Island Walk supports the construction of the new Florina Cancer Center at Staten Island University Hospital.
The Walk began in 2010 as the “Every Woman Matters Walk,” inspired by the vision of philanthropists Iris and Saul Katz, whose commitment to high-quality health care continues to be felt throughout Northwell. Since its inception, the Northwell Health Walk has raised more than $7 million and supports Northwell’s Outpacing the Impossible campaign, a comprehensive $1.4 billion fundraising effort that supports Northwell’s promise to the people it serves. The campaign’s objectives include improving hospitals and clinical programs, accelerating research and funding endowment.