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Jessica’s Heroes 5K Run/Walk to raise funds to assist local cancer patients

Charles Pritchard
Staff writer
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Posted 8/16/22

Another year has passed, and Jessica Froelick’s memory still lives on in her friends, family, and the community as people come together to help those fighting cancer.

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Jessica’s Heroes 5K Run/Walk to raise funds to assist local cancer patients

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ONEIDA — Another year has passed, and Jessica Froelick’s memory still lives on in her friends, family, and the community as people come together to help those fighting cancer.

Jessica’s Heroes is named after Jessica Froelick, an employee of Oneida Health, who lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer in 2017 — she was 34 at the time. Since then, her friends and family have championed the Jessica’s Heroes Foundation with a mission of helping those in the community while undergoing cancer treatment, no matter who they are.

Jessica’s Heroes 5K Run and Walk kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at Oneida High School.

“As much as Jessica was going through her personal health battle, working, and taking care of her family, she made time for everyone — even total strangers,” Jessica’s Heroes Co-Founder Susan Jones said. “And one of the things I’ve discovered is how much the smallest gesture can mean to someone and the impact it has, even if it’s just acknowledging what they’re going through.”

Money raised through Jessica’s Heroes is used to help those going through cancer treatments in the greater Oneida area cover certain expenses that might bring unwanted stress.

“Can we help pay your car off? No, but we can do things to help,” Jones continued. Things like gas cards and checks to cover the cost of groceries can certainly help. “And because we’re a smaller and close-knit community, we can help you emotionally as well.”

Committee Member Carrie Earl said Jessica’s Heroes is still open to sponsorships for the next few weeks. Sponsors currently include ServiceMaster by Ross, Oneida Health, Gratitude for Attitude, AllSeasonings, and Oneida Wine and Liquor, to name a few.

While Jessica’s Heroes has been gathering donations from the community since the beginning of the year, there’s a bit of anxiety as inflations hits everyone hard. And those undergoing cancer treatment also feel it — even more so.

“We’ve seen an uptick in applicants, and they’ve continuously requested gas cards,” Jones said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to get donations to help, but we also don’t want to hurt the people who are donating. We want to be responsible to them as well, so we’re looking for other things to help and raise funds, such as a raffle.”

“We can only do so much to help, but there are so many organizations and information out there – if you know where to look,” Co-Founder Amy Ross said. “And for Jessica, it was daunting. If you Google ‘Cancer Assistance,’ you get a mile of information. And that’s why we’ve made the resources page for someone who might not want to spend hours searching.”

Just this winter, Ross and Jones said they were able to point a cancer patient in the area who was having trouble paying for their home heating oil by finding relevant programs to assist.

“I recently did a count, and just recently, we have assisted 98 people so far, and it’s only August,” Ross said.

Those looking to help Jessica’s Heroes and cancer patients in the area asked to reach out to the organization for a new endeavor.

“Over and over, we get people reaching out and are looking for a local support group,” Jones said. “I’ve been trying to work with bigger organizations to set something up, but logistically, it’s been difficult. But at some point, we’d like to offer a local support group, whether online or in person.”

Those with backgrounds in therapy are especially encouraged.

On top of this, Gadgets for Heroes is a Facebook group recently started to help cancer patients connect and make connections to share resources or information on products and services to help.

“It’s a great place for people who are looking for information or providing information,” Ross said. People have shared experiences about going through chemotherapy treatments and what helped them.

“We try to focus on real and practical needs because we saw that all the time with Jessica,” Jones said. “You don’t always know what’s needed.”

And if it’s not practical, it’s a simple gesture like sending flowers or a heartfelt note “… so they know we’re thinking about them.”

“What we really need on the morning of the run is for people to come out and cheer on each other as they walk or run,” Earl said. “If you can’t come out but are on the path, get out on your front porch and cheer them on ... because people need to know they are being supported.”

New to this year is the Jessica’s Hope Lap for cancer survivors and children age 12 and up. The survivor's lap will be .3 miles. This is in addition to the 5K, for a total of 3.4 miles, representing the age at which Jessica lost her battle with cancer — 34.

 

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