Joanna Sophia Foundation announces fundraising epilepsy walk and run in Whitestone

Joanna Sophia with her family. (Photo courtesy of the Joanna Sophia Foundation)

The Joanna Sophia Foundation will host its second annual “Around the World in 5k Run/Walk” in Whitestone on Saturday, June 26, to raise awareness about epilepsy and support families in need.

The foundation is hosting the event in memory of 9-year-old Joanna Sophia, who passed away in her sleep in November 2018 by sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

“This event is a way for us to celebrate Joanna’s life while raising awareness about epilepsy,” said Costa Ioannou, Joanna Sophia Foundation co-founder and Joanna’s father. “We also want to help families and kids in the community.”

The runners and the walkers will start at 196 Northern Blvd., turn on Francis Lewis Boulevard, and conclude at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church on 15005 150th St.

Flyer for the Joanna Sophia foundation walk and run on June 26. (Photo courtesy of the Joanna Sophia Foundation)

According to Ioannou, in every couple of feet along the route there will be some sort of entertainment from different cultures around the world. There will be the music of different countries from bagpipes of Ireland, mariachis of Mexico, accordions of Italy and bouzouki of Greece and Cyprus.

The 5 km route will be lined with entertainment and fanfare, and there will be food booths from around the world. At the finish line, there will be barbecues, drinks, entertainment and music.

People will also enjoy music from DJs and dancers, so participants will get an abundance of fun and entertainment.

“We want people to come to enjoy themselves and have a great time,” Ioannou said. “We will have free water for the runners and the walkers. We will have the support of NYPD and community ambulances ready to help us just in case.”

All walkers and runners will receive a T-shirt and a five-dollar coupon they can use at any tent vendors at the event. The organizers have decided to give extra motivation to the runners. They will award $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

According to the CDC, about 3.4 million people are living with epilepsy nationwide including 470,000 children. Studies haven’t identified a prime diagnosis time, but the incidence rate is highest in young children under 2 years old and adults aged 65 or older. 

Ioannou said all the money collected will be dedicated to researches to cure epilepsy.

People can register by visiting joannasophiafoundation.org. They can pick up T-shirts at 11-01 154th St. on Thursday, June 24, from 6 to 9 p. m.

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