By Katelyn Gendron
GRANBY – Michelle and Ed Cayo of Granby made their son, Nicholas Redmond-Cayo, a promise: They’d make a difference in the lives of those with pediatric cancer.
Redmond-Cayo lost his 15-month battle with brain cancer on Dec. 15, 2012, the day before his 13th birthday, and in the eight months since, his parents have already kept their promise. The inaugural Steps for Pediatric Cancer Walk will take place at Look Park in Northampton on Sept. 14.
“Only one month after Nick passed, I knew I needed to make a difference. I could not just sit by idly after seeing everything my son went through due to the cancer,” Michelle Cayo told Reminder Publications, noting that the Walk has obtained a full endorsement from The Jimmy Fund.
“The Walk fulfills part of the promise that we made to Nick to make a difference. While this Walk will raise money for the much-needed funds for pediatric cancer research, it will most importantly raise awareness of childhood cancer,” Ed Cayo said.
“With Nick gone, there is a hole in our hearts that will never be filled. Nothing can compare to the loss of losing a child. Now the house is quiet, from morning to night – the laughter that filled every room is now silence. But with his passing, has come a strong sense of purpose. I am dedicated to sharing his journey, to helping other children and to give all I can to make a difference,” Michelle Cayo added.
The Cayos have set a fundraising goal of $25,000, which will be donated to pediatric cancer research at the Jimmy Fund. More than 150 people have signed up for the Walk, however, they’re hoping to have at least 500 participants.
“We wanted the funds to go towards pediatric cancer research since there is minimal funds that go towards pediatric cancer. Only 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s funds go towards pediatric cancer and less than 2 percent of the American Cancer Society’s [funding helps fight this form of cancer],” Ed Cayo explained.
“Many people do not know that pediatric cancer is the number one cause of disease related death in children. Before Nick was diagnosed, we didn’t know this fact; it was easy to turn your head to it since ‘that won’t happen to my child,’ but it did,” he added. “We want to be the voice for all the children that are fighting this horrible disease. We want there to be a day when you can walk into a store, and much like breast cancer and the pink ribbon, there will be merchandise with gold ribbons representing childhood cancer. We need that level of awareness; we need to make a difference for the children [because] they deserve it.”
The support from the community has been “overwhelming,” Michelle Cayo said.
“The major ‘Gold Ribbon’ sponsor of the event is Country Bank. They have been amazing and are fully embracing the cause and are determined to make a difference for the children. They went out of their way and had a billboard designed for the event. These billboards (located on Route 20 in Wilbraham and over the Ludlow bridge in Indian Orchard) are amazing. I love just looking at the billboards and seeing Nick’s smiling face,” she added.
For more information about the Steps for Pediatric Cancer Walk, to register or to make a donation, visit www.stepsforpediatriccancer.com