ONEIDA — Fighting cancer is a hard journey, but Jessica’s Heroes is there to help — and they’re asking the community to join them on Sept. 25. Named after Jessica Froelick, an Oneida Health employee who lost her battle with breast cancer at 34, Jessica’s Heroes started in 2018 as a 5K walk and run, inviting the whole community to raise support awareness and funds for cancer patients.
Amy Ross and Susan Jones, co-founders of Jessica’s Heroes Foundation, were close to Jessica and carry on her memory by providing cancer patients in the greater Oneida area with whatever assistance they can, whether it’s money for food and gas or information and contacts while undergoing treatment.
Ross and Jones stress that money donated to Jessica’s Heroes stays in the community and helps local patients.
“As a small business owner myself, I love the fact that we’re giving to our community, and what we give stays here,” Ward 1 Councilor and committee member Carrie Earl said. “It’s not nation or statewide; it’s right here.”
When the pandemic hit, plans for the 2020 5K walk and run came to a screeching halt, and a workaround was needed. The goal was to raise $15,000 through a virtual 5K walk and run. There was a huge outpouring of support from the community, doubling the goal and raising $30,000 altogether.
This year, Jessica’s Heroes is making a comeback with not just their physical 5K run and walk through Oneida, but the virtual run and walk too. After seeing the success, Jones said it’s the best of both worlds. And not only does it let those in the greater Oneida area participate from home, but it also opens the door nationally.
“Total strangers have approached me on Facebook — most recently a woman in Nashville — asking how they can help,” Jones said. And while the virtual run was a happy success, both Jones and Ross are ecstatic to be able to put on the physical walk and run this year. “The virtual race was much more successful than we ever could have hoped for, but to be able to have it in person and see everyone there while telling Jess’s story is something else,” Ross said.
“And the energy of the people at the run is just remarkable,” Jones said. “The area needs something like this. Whether you’re sick or not, or you know someone, it’s something to know that people care.”
Ross and Jones ask anyone in need of help to come forward and contact them.”We’ve found that people aren’t asking for help for themselves; it’s through a friend or family member asking if we can help,” Ross said. Jones added that if money isn’t an issue, Jessica’s Heroes website has a large collection of resources to help patients fighting cancer.
“I was contacted the other day by a young man who said his friend had cancer and still working. And he’s driving twice a week to Roswell in Rochester for treatment,” Jones said. “And with gas prices the way they are now, that’s crazy. But he didn’t know other organizations can help, like helping cover his copays. And we showed him the resource section, and he reached out, and he’s on the way to getting help.”
“We know we’re not making a cure for cancer, and we know that,” Earl said. “But what we’re doing is giving people help in that moment of time when they need it.”
Jessica’s Heroes 5K Walk and Run will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25. Registration is $25, $15 for survivors, and $5 for children. Those who register before Sept. 10 will get a Jessica’s Heroes t-shirt. The deadline to register is Sept. 23.
There will be several road closures on the day of the event. These roads and streets include the following at the specified times:
Maple Drive: 9:40 to 9:55 a.m.
Summit Avenue: 9:55 to
Belmont Avenue: 9:30 to
Sayles Street: 9:40 to 10:55 a.m.
Oxford Street: 9:45 to
Seneca Street: 9:55 to
Broadway Street: 9:30 to
Stone Street: 9:35 to 10:50 a.m.
Lincoln Avenue: 9:40 to
Leonard Street: 9:45 to
Roads may open sooner if all runners and walkers have passed through. Drivers are asked to follow the directions of the Oneida Police Department.
Sponsorships for the run are still open.
For more information, visit www.jessicasheroesfoundation.com, email info@jessicasheroesfoundation, or call 315-366-4315.