The Bethany Rose Cyr Foundation will host its fourth annual 5K walk on Sunday, Aug. 17 at City Park to benefit families with children suffering from cancer.
This year’s walk will also serve as a celebration, commemorating the fifth anniversary of Bethany Rose Cyr’s death on Dec. 22, 2007. The young girl was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer where malignant cells are present in the spinal fluid causing pain and pressure on the brain, in August of 2007 when she was only 15 years old.
Cyr fought a battle that included multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, which eventually left the former softball player and varsity track team member in a wheelchair, hearing impaired and partially paralyzed in her face.
The Toll Gate High School student lost her battle with cancer shortly after her 16th birthday.
“Everything they feared happening did happen,” said Brian Verria, Cyr’s cousin.
The Cyr family did not just have to suffer losing Bethany to cancer; Bethany’s father and grandfather also passed away from the disease, in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Bethany’s uncle also passed away from the disease.
Verria, who Cyr called Uncle Brian, wanted to do something to not only help his family who was struggling financially and emotionally, but also commemorate his cousin. So he created the Bethany Rose Cyr Foundation.
“I went out and started to do different events,” Verria explained, adding that the foundation also sold pink bracelets to commemorate Cyr. In the beginning, funds went to the Cyr family to help them cover a pile of expenses stemming from the loss of their various family members.
However, Verria explained that after about six months, the family was back on their feet and had time to properly grieve. But the Foundation did not stop.
“But this is a passion that I have decided to take on,” said Verria, explaining that he runs the Foundation along with a dedicated Board of Directors. Members of the Cyr family help when they are able to.
“We are all in this for the same common goal and that is to help families with children who have cancer in memory of Bethany Rose. We want her legacy to continue,” said Verria.
Today, money raised during Foundation events, such as next weekend’s 5K are given to a family who has a child suffering from cancer to help alleviate the financial burden that comes with battling this deadly disease. Families are able to apply to receive the money and the Board will get together to select a family to benefit after the event.
When the Bethany Rose Cyr Foundation becomes a 501c3 certified organization, something the Board hopes will be completed by spring 2014, the organization will expand to help families with children fighting any deadly disease. “We’re about 80 percent there,” said Verria, who hopes to have the paperwork mailed off by September.
But for now, the Board is focused on celebrating Cyr’s life during this year’s 5K. The hope is by hosting the walk in Cyr’s old neighborhood instead of at Roger Williams Park, it will not only bring happy memories back to City Park, but also allow for more of Cyr’s friends to take part. Not only does the event feature the walk, but there will also be a number of activities for kids to enjoy, such as face painting, Lili the Clown, and large slides.
“We are going to be ready for 500 people, but planning on 200 or 300. We’ll be ready. We’re getting it down to a science,” said Verria.
Verria wasn’t even sure if he would be able to pull this event off. He is considered completely disabled himself, has undergone three major spinal surgeries, and is recently out of a wheelchair and starting to walk again.
“I knew that I could pull this walk off if I could just get home,” said Verria. He returned home from the hospital this Father’s Day and is glad to be back working with his team on Cyr’s legacy.
The goal is to one day have close to 1,000 people participate in the Bethany Rose Cyr Foundation’s 5K and, even further down the road, have Bethany Rose Cyr be a household name.
“She made such a lasting impression in my life that this is the least I can do,” said Verria about his fun-loving, beautiful and talented cousin.
Registration for the 5K begins at 9 a.m. and the walk is scheduled to start at 10. There is a $10 registration fee and children under 12 are free. There will be free food and drinks for participants.
Participants can register at the event or online at the Foundation’s website, www.brcmemorialfoundation.com. Participants can also download individual sponsor or corporate sponsor forms on the website. Those interested in supporting the Bethany Rose Cyr Foundation can also make donations or purchase bracelets.