April 14, 2021
Penny’s Wish to Give to Tackle Kids Cancer at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Granted
On Tuesday, April 13, during a private ceremony, Make-A-Wish New Jersey posthumously honored the wish of 2 ½ year-old Penelope (Penny), who recently passed away after her courageous battle with neuroblastoma.
Penny’s wish was to provide a contribution to Tackle Kids Cancer (TKC), a philanthropic initiative of Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Children’s Cancer Institute, to raise money for pediatric cancer research and patient care programs at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. Penny’s wish was granted through the presentation of a donation to Tackle Kids Cancer, alongside her parents, to honor her memory and help other children fighting their own battles with pediatric cancer.
“We are so heartwarmingly moved by Penny and her family’s compassion in thinking of Tackle Kids Cancer,” said Alfred Gillio, M.D., director, Children’s Cancer Institute, Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health. “Penny could have wished for anything, like a special toy or a fun-filled experience, but she chose to make a wish that would benefit other children like her. Her generosity and legacy will forever live on through the important research we do to find a cure for pediatric cancer, and we will never forget her incredible spirit and bright smile. We also thank Make-A-Wish New Jersey for granting Penny’s gift and to Eli, our TeamTKC Captain, for supporting our mission and taking the time to meet Penny’s family.”
Penny’s wish will provide Tackle Kids Cancer with essential funds needed to continue their work in supporting clinical trials and funding innovative patient care and translational research at Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), located in Nutley, NJ. The CDI is home to two important labs funded by Tackle Kids Cancer that investigate new immunotherapy treatments for pediatric cancer and meet the clinical and research needs of children with rare central nervous system (CNS) tumors.
Make-A-Wish New Jersey presented Penny’s wish with special guests from the New York Football Giants. As a complete surprise for Penny’s parents, former New York Giants quarterback and #TeamTKC Captain Eli Manning joined the ceremony and honored Penny’s wish and her legacy.
“Today is a special day, for many reasons,” shared Tom Weatherall, president & CEO of Make-A-Wish New Jersey. “We are honored to stand here with our longstanding partners from Hackensack Meridian University Medical Center, the Children’s Cancer Institute, and Eli Manning, wish granter and captain for Tackle Kids Cancer, to celebrate Penny, her memory and her legacy, with her parents Cassandra and Jack. Penny’s wish to give has brought all three of our organizations together, alongside Penny’s family, to honor her memory and the impact her wish will have on other children courageously battling cancer. Today’s ceremony here at the Wishing Place will forever remain in all of our hearts, and we will never forget Penny’s generous spirit.”
The New York Giants and Manning have been longtime supporters and friends to both Make-A-Wish and Tackle Kids Cancer. Since 2015, Manning has continued to support Tackle Kids Cancer in an extensive media campaign and created Eli’s Challenge to motivate grassroots group fundraisers, which have raised substantial funds for the ground-breaking initiative.
“The New York Giants are proud of our longstanding relationship with Make-A-Wish New Jersey,” said Allison Stangeby, vice president of Community Relations, New York Giants. “For over two decades, we have worked hand in hand to bring wishes to life. To see Make-A-Wish New Jersey join forces with Tackle Kids Cancer, one of our partners, to provide funding towards pediatric cancer research further ignites our passion and commitment to both organizations.”
During his time with the New York Giants, Eli Manning and his teammates worked closely with Make-A-Wish and granted nearly 70 wishes to children with critical illnesses from across the country. In 2013, they were recognized with the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award, a national recognition of celebrities, athletes, sports teams and entertainment entities who demonstrate excellence and a commitment to the mission of Make-A-Wish.
Penny’s wish was granted at the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, home of Make-A-Wish New Jersey, in Monroe Township. Since its grand opening in December 2011, the Wishing Place has served as a magical and whimsical wish granting facility that provides an environment free of limitations, confinement and stress. It stimulates the imagination and reveals to children with critical illnesses the imaginative possibilities of a wish.
About Make-A-Wish® New Jersey
Make-A-Wish New Jersey creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. In the fight against a critical illness, a wish serves as a catalyst for renewed strength and encouragement for every child and family on their journey. A wish helps kids look past their limitations, families overcome anxiety and entire communities experience joy. Most importantly, wishes can improve a child’s quality of life. We believe a single wish transforms lives. With their national headquarters based in Phoenix, Arizona, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, with 59 chapters serving children in every community in the United States and its territories, and nearly 40 international affiliates serving children on five continents. Make-A-Wish New Jersey was founded in 1983. Serving children in every municipality in the Garden State, Make-A-Wish New Jersey has granted over 11,000 wishes since its inception. For more information about Make-A-Wish New Jersey, call 800-252-WISH or visit nj.wish.org and discover how you can help transform lives, one wish at a time.
About Tackle Kids Cancer
Tackle Kids Cancer is a philanthropic initiative of Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health to raise money for pediatric cancer research and patient care programs at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. Donations made to Tackle Kids Cancer directly benefit the essential clinical care, unique support services and groundbreaking cancer research needed to find a cure. Since its launch in September 2015, Tackle Kids Cancer has raised more than $10 million in funds. For more information, visit www.tacklekidscancer.org.
About Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health
Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health provides the most comprehensive and highest level of quality care to young patients in the state of New Jersey. The children’s network is comprised of two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune – and a large network of pediatric subspecialists and pediatricians. Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health hospitals are the only two in New Jersey to be ranked among the top 50 in the nation for pediatric cancer care by U.S. News and World Report. Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital also ranks among the top 50 in the nation for pediatric neurology and neurosurgery. Visit www.hackensackmerdianhealth.org/kids for more information about Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health.
About the New York Football Giants
A cornerstone franchise of the National Football League, the New York Football Giants began play in 1925. With eight championships, including a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, their second in five seasons, the Giants are the only franchise in the NFL with a Super Bowl victory in each of the last four decades. Headquartered at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., the Giants enter their 97th season of play this fall. For more information, visit www.giants.com.