Third-grade students at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School cheered and held up hand written notes and signs on Wednesday in support of their fellow classmate Jaimie Ferretti, who survived last year a lifesaving neurosurgical procedure at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Having made a full recovery and standing in front of teachers, administrators and classmates, Ferretti was appointed on March 13 as the Grand Marshal of the 2013 "Go the Distance" Walk and Family Fun Day fundraising event for the hospital.
Dr. Michael Tobias, co-chief of pediatric neurosurgery presented her with a Grand Marshal sash, specially-tailored in her favorite color pink.
"Jaimie came in a rush to the hospital, we didn't know what was going on, but we figured it out quickly," Tobias said. "She went through some really tough times that not every kid, not even every adult can go through with courage. She had a great support system and she really was an ideal patient."
(Watch the video of her official appointment ceremony above.)
"Go the Distance," which is scheduled for Sunday, April 21, draws former patients, their families, hospital staff and supportive community members from around the region.
As the event’s Grand Marshal, Ferretti will lead thousands of participants around the Westchester Medical Center campus during the event’s procession. A host of family activities will follow the casual one-mile walk.
Jaimie, who lives in Mahopac, was rushed to the hospital just a few days after New Year’s Day in 2012 for an emergency brain surgery. Doctors had to remove a malignant tumor that was causing her brain to swell. The delicate and complex procedure took more than 14 hours in total. The surgery was so successful that Ferretti didn't need radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
She was home from the hospital within a short period and a little more than a year after her surgery, Ferretti is a happy and healthy third-grade student.
Her mother Debra Ferretti said she wanted to thank the doctors who helped save her daughter's lives. She recalled that when she heard that her daughter was selected as the Grand Marshal, she said she "burst out crying."
"They saved her life," the mother said. "We are very blessed and lucky the doctors were there."
Ferretti and her supporters will walk the "Go the Distance" in April under the name Jaimie's Dream Team. That name was selected to honor the surgeons who saved the young girl's life, as they are often referred to as the Dream Team at the hospital, Debra Ferretti said.
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center and the Lakeland Central School District’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary School also share a special history.
Prior to the hospital’s opening more than a decade ago, the school held a "Reach for the Stars Read-a-Thon” fundraiser and raised $100,000 for the hospital and its children’s programs. A plaque commemorating this remarkable achievement adorns a wall in the hospital’s Family Resource Center.
In addition, a floor-to-ceiling tile mosaic created by Benjamin Franklin Elementary School students with the inscription “You Can Make a Difference” is located outside of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s pediatric emergency room. A sister mural created by school students greets visitors in Benjamin Franklin Elementary School’s main lobby.
Jaimie said on Wednesday that she was excited to walk in April with all of her friends and wanted to thank the doctors and the hospital for saving her life.
To learn more about Go the Distance, including how participants can support advanced children’s healthcare in the region, interested parties are encouraged to visit www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/walk.