Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids raises over $150k in Bayside, drawing hundreds for family fun and charity

st. mary's
Hundreds of New Yorkers turned out to Crocheron Park on Sunday in support of St. Mary’s children.
Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

For the 18th annual Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids, the organization raised over $150,000 from over a thousand donations to support critically ill and injured children. 

The event, held on Sunday, June 2, in Bayside‘s Crocheron Park, drew hundreds of New Yorkers, who participated in the walk and remained afterward for family fun activities such as carnival games, face painting and arts and crafts. 

The event was geared toward families and children of all ages. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

“Our annual Big Heart’s Walk is always a special day for the St. Mary’s community, where we are able to come together for a day of family fun supporting a fantastic cause,” said Dr. Edwin Simpser, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children.

The event also honored two community members who have made strong contributions to St. Mary’s over the years. Maureen Folan, Founder of The Maureen Folan Real Estate Group, and Bridget Klein, Senior Therapeutic Activities Assistant for the Healing Arts and Therapeutic Recreation, both received plaques at the event. 

The CEO of St. Mary’s, Dr. Edward Simper, presented Bridget Klein with an award. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

As the only center for pediatric long-term care and rehabilitative services in the city, the funds raised from the event will be used to pay for the medical services of children in the Bayside facility. According to the hospital, more than 90% of their patients require care and services that exceed what families can afford and Medicare can cover. 

For the past 150 years, St. Mary’s has been providing care for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions regardless of the family’s ability to  pay. 

One of St. Mary’s patients, Liam Collins, and his family attended the annual walk.

Liam Collins, a three-year-old who was born with Escobar Syndrome, has been consistently receiving care from St. Mary’s since being released from the NICU. The disease, which causes joint contractures and muscle weakness, has led him to go through multiple surgeries, rounds of serial castings, a femur fracture and countless splints.

But his family says that the team at St. Mary’s, whether it is his physical therapist or speech therapist, has helped him thrive and develop a strong sense of self despite the condition. Earlier this year, Collins confidently entered preschool, where his humor and outgoing disposition were on full display.

“We can’t thank them enough for not only helping Liam achieve so many milestones we never thought possible but for truly loving him. We know that the future will include more surgeries and challenges, but with the help of his St. Mary’s family, he will conquer any obstacle that comes his way,” said a family member.

Jeremy Tyler Parzych regularly attends St. Mary’s after-school program for his therapies. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

This year marked a new milestone for funds raised by meeting the goal of raising $150,000. Last year the event raised $125,000, and, in 2022, it raised $98,000.

“We are so grateful to each and every one of our dedicated supporters who participated in this year’s walk. Philanthropic events like this one are essential to ensuring that we can continue to provide the highest quality of care to children with special healthcare needs and life-limiting conditions,” added Dr. Simpser. 

Dozens of volunteers at the event helped sell toys and lead activities for the attendees. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud