St. Mary’s hosts annual walk-a-thon in Bayside’s Crocheron Park

St. Mary's walk-a-thon at Crocheron Park
Scenes from St. Mary’s annual walk-a-thon (Photo by Alexa Heller)

Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at Crocheron Park Sunday morning, June 12, to participate in St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children’s 16th annual “Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids.”

In addition to the walk, which was a little over a mile long, the was food, balloon animals, raffles, games, prizes, face painting, arts and crafts projects and a magician for everyone in attendance. All proceeds from the event will help to provide high-quality care to the most critically ill and injured children at St. Mary’s.

St. Mary's walk-a-thon at Crocheron Park
Photo by Alexa Hiller

This year marks the event’s return to Queens after holding it at the Bronx Zoo last year and being unable to do so in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to St. Mary’s President and CEO Edwin Simpser, this return was a rousing success, even with the rain sprinkling down as it began.

“This is a great event to connect with our friends throughout the community,” Simpser said. “A lot of specialized programs will benefit from this. I’m amazed at the turnout given the weather.”

St. Mary's walk-a-thon at Crocheron Park
The rain didn’t stop hundreds of community members from taking part in the walk-a-thon (Photo by Alexa Heller)

While it was drizzling leading up to the start of the walk-a-thon, the rain stopped just as everyone was about to begin walking.

In addition to the walkers who were at the event, some who wished to help the cause but were unable to attend signed up to be “virtual walkers.” The donation cost to participate in the walk was $25 for adults and $15 for kids.

St. Mary's walk-a-thon at Crocheron Park
Photo by Alexa Heller

According to Sean Lally, the vice president of development, strategic planning and external affairs for St. Mary’s, this event has meant a lot to the community since the early days of its inception. Thanks to the several hundred who signed up to participate in this year’s walk-a-thon, over $85,000 was raised for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children.

Prior to the beginning of the walk-a-thon, M&T Bank Healthcare Commercial Banking and Senior Relationship Manager David Clarke was honored as this year’s Big Hearts Walk honoree. He received the honor for his contributions to raising awareness and funding for critical programs for children with special healthcare needs. According to Clarke, he’s happy to contribute to St. Mary’s because he believes they have a great group of dedicated individuals.

St. Mary's walk-a-thon at Crocheron Park
Photo by Ethan Marshall

Since 1870, St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children has been providing long-term and rehabilitative care for the most critically ill and injured children across the state of New York. St. Mary’s has grown from a 15-bed hospital in Hell’s Kitchen to become one of only a handful of organizations around the country dedicated to providing intensive rehabilitation, specialized care and education to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.

The hospital remains committed to its mission of turning children with the most complex medical conditions into happier, healthier and stronger kids.