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Rockville Centre goes gold for pediatric cancer awareness

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September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, and the Village of Rockville Centre is seizing the opportunity to educate about the disease and advocate for better research and treatments.

The community gathered to kick off the month of remembrance with a tree lighting ceremony at the Village Green on Sunday. Now, string lights make the tree glow in gold, the color for pediatric cancer awareness. Gold ribbons are also on display across the village.

Childhood cancer has struck many families in the village. It has taken the lives of four Rockville Centre children in the past year alone, according to Carol Ruchalski, mother of Mary, who died of the disease in March 2018.

“They’re not going to first grade or high school,” Ruchalski said at a Village Board of Trustees meeting on Monday. “Or college. Or getting married. That is a sad fact of pediatric cancer that haunts us mothers.”

After thanking the community for the great turnout at the ceremony the night before, Ruchalski spoke about the work that still needs to be done. She noted that children with cancer are often given adult forms of chemotherapy, as well as outdated medicines, and are “left with no options.”

“We must demand action from our government to raise the amount of money that is designated to pediatric cancer research,” she said. “We must earmark our donations so that they are for pediatric.”

Childhood cancer has also touched the lives of Mayor Francis X. Murray and his wife, Barbara. Their niece, Kimi, died of the disease in January. Barbara spoke Monday about pediatric awareness month.

“Kimi deserved better. Our children deserve better,” she said. “In honor of them, please display your gold and think about donating to their cause and rid our children of this horrific disease.”