Grateful family leads community walk for cure
Thursday, September 18, 2003
By TIM ZATZARINY JR.
Matthew Passarella will celebrate the birthday he wasn't supposed to see.
On Friday the fourth-grader turns 10. The following day, his family will celebrate his life with the first "Matthew's Miles - A Walk for Brain Tumor Care."
All proceeds from the two-mile walk at the Logan Township Recreational Park will go to the American Brain Tumor Association.
In January 2001, doctors found an inoperable tumor on Matthew's brain stem.
They told his family he had only six to nine months to live.
During a biopsy the following month, a neurosurgeon removed half of the tumor. A pathology report later revealed that the growth was less aggressive than originally thought, improving Matthew's chances for survival.
The remaining portion of the tumor is being monitored by the boy's doctors, but his prognosis is good, his mother said.
"His birthdays really are emotional for me now," Andrea Passarella said. "We've been blessed that he's still here. There are so many children who receive the diagnosis that Matthew had and they're not here. I felt like we needed to do something to celebrate his life and help others."
Roughly 190,600 people in the United States will be diagnosed with brain tumors in 2003, according to the American Brain Tumor Association, which is based in Des Plaines, Ill.
Brain tumors are the second leading cause, behind leukemia, of cancer-related death in children under age 20, according to the association.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Andrea Passarella said she chose the association as the beneficiary of the event because it provides funding for research into a cure.
The walk will be followed by an auction of sports memorabilia, including items donated by the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies and the New Jersey Devils, she said.
Although Matthew still tires easily, he attends Logan Elementary School and has taken karate and swimming lessons, his mother said. He also spends time playing with his 5-year-old brother, Luke, and 2-year-old sister, Emma, who was born on the night Matthew was diagnosed.
"We've been given time to help do what we can to find a cure" for brain tumors, Passarella said. "I'm going to do all I can to see that no parent has to hear that their child has a brain tumor. It's devastating news."
Reach Tim Zatzariny Jr. at (856) 251-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
`Matthew's Miles - A Walk for Brain Tumor Care,' begins 10 a.m. Saturday, at the Logan Township Recreational Park, Township Line Road. Registration is $20 and begins at 9:30 a.m. For more information, call (856) 467-9426 or go to www.matthewsmiles.org