Getting creamed

Monroe Pediatrics' successful 'Pie in the Face' challenge to raise awareness for pediatric cancers expands this weekend with other organizations joining in

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  • Pick your doctor, and throw your pie. Pediatricians Nilufer Clubwala, Danielle Dziedzic, Jamee Goldstein, Evan Harawitz and Stacey Rosmarin had pies thrown in their faces to support The Truth 365.

  • Christian, age 4, was a special guest at Monroe Pediatrics Pie for Pediatric Cancer event. He was chosen to first pie into the face of his doctor, Dr. Evan Harawitz.

  • Christian Couey high-fives Dr. Evan Harawitz, after smashing a pie in the physician's face during Saturday's 'Pie in the Face Challenge for Pediatric Cancer Research" at Monroe Pediatrics. Seven hundred dollars were raised, with the pediatric practice adding $300 to bring the amount up to $1,000 raised in only one hour's time.

  • Photos by Melissa Kochovos Anthony Scancarello, left, Julia Pierce, Tommy LaFace and Christian Couey, who are either in treatment for cancer or who are cancer survivors, were the first kids who threw pies in the faces of the doctors at Monroe Pediatrics this past Saturday. Each pie cost five dollars to throw and all proceeds were donated to The Truth 365.

By Nancy Kriz

– Look out ALC Ice Bucket Challenge, there's a new kid in town.

That "kid" is intended to help sick children, and comes in the form of pies made from canned Reddi-Whip on a paper plates, along with solid throwing arms and good natured doctors covered in plastic cloths.

Monroe Pediatrics' "Pie in the Face Challenge for Pediatric Cancer Research" raised $700 from the 140 pies thrown in the faces of physicians Nilufer Clubwala, Danielle Dziedzic, Jamee Goldstein, Evan Harawitz and Stacey Rosmarin this past Saturday.

The practice added $300, bringing the total to $1,000 raised in the one-hour event to benefit The Truth 365.

Julianna Edel

The idea to "smoosh" a whipped cream pie in one's face to support pediatric cancer research came from Nikki Dubner, a Central Valley Elementary fifth-grade teacher, who had Julianna Edel as one of her students.

Julianna, who lived in Highland Mills, died a year ago from Ewing's Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects children. She was diagnosed with the disease only one year prior.

Her family quickly became involved with The Truth 365 group, which seeks to educate and mobilize people through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites about the need for pediatric cancer research funding.

Its film, "The Truth 365," introduces people to the world of childhood cancer with the hope they become inspired to join the cause.

What Facebook friends do

"Nikki did the ALC Ice Bucket Challenge," said Goldstein, one of the partners in the practice. "We're Facebook friends. At the same time, she said she was going to take a pie in the face for pediatric cancer awareness. While she really didn't challenge anyone, she was hopeful people who saw her Facebook page would do it."

While Julianna was not a patient at Monroe Pediatrics, Goldstein saw her posting and thought it was a fabulous idea.

"I initially thought we'd have some of our kids in treatment or were survivors come and throw pies in our faces to give them something fun to do," she aid. "It morphed into all the doctors saying they wanted to do this as a fundraiser."

'A sweet way to raise awareness'

So last Saturday, protected only by poncho-like plastic table cloths, the doctors sat themselves down on chairs in the practice's parking lot to get up close and personal with Reddi-Whip.

"The first set of children who were throwing were survivors," said Goldstein, who thanked Kourtney Wright of the Monroe ShopRite for donating all the Reddi-Whip and a birthday cake to celebrate a survivor's birthday. "Once they got going, they had so much fun. The doctors were laughing and enjoying it so much. I was covered, head to toe, in Reddi-Whip. It was a sweet way of raising awareness. It was so nice to bond over something so positive."

Cancer is a tough disease, and Goldstein said when children are involved, it's even tougher.

"I think people don't want to know about things that are sad and they don't want to know about things that are hard," she said. "In conversations with our families dealing with cancer, the interaction with friends and family sometimes drops off with a cancer diagnosis. It's a very isolating thing when you hear your child has cancer."

'Touched by the enthusiasm'

Goldstein cited statistics which said approximately 35 children each day are diagnosed with cancer and one in 500 people over the age of 20 are pediatric cancer survivors.

"Much like many things with children, unfortunately the money is not there," she said. "It's easy to throw money at adult research because it affects such a large population, but there's lots of things about children that need to be researched and the funds just aren't there."

Tina Edel, Julianna's mother, agreed.

"I was very touched at Monroe pediatricians' enthusiasm and their dedication to childhood cancer awareness," said Edel. "I am so thrilled that this community---who helped and supported us throughout Julianna's treatment---is so passionate about raising awareness of the need for more cancer funding for children."

The challenge

There's a momentum brewing within the community to throw pies in faces as a result.

Monroe Pediatrics challenged some of the area's biggest organizations who are involved with children to accept the challenge of having pies thrown in their faces and all agreed to take on the "smooshy" challenge.

At tomorrow's Cheese Festival, the staff of Terpsichore the Dancerschool will invite their students and the public to throw pies in their faces for a $5 donation to The Truth 365.

Monroe-Woodbury Pop Warner has accepted the challenge and will have pies thrown this weekend at their games to support the group.

So will the Monroe-Woodbury United Soccer Club, which has hundreds of kids on recreational and travel teams playing this weekend.

And, a Woodbury Boy Scout Troop will be throwing pies at this weekend at events in that town.

"Smoosh a pie in someone's face this weekend to celebrate the healthy children in your life and to celebrate the lives of those who lost their battle," Goldstein said. "We give to children's' charities often but this was definitely the most fun we've ever had. One of the reasons I went into pediatrics is because the sickest child is happiest and more hopeful than the healthiest adult. We saw the joy and the excitement in life (through the smooshing of a pie) in these kids. The kids who were in treatment or are survivors were getting to have fun and really be kids."

She added: "This is why we're raising money, to bring the treatments to help these kids get healthy and to allow them to have more days of being children."

After all the fun, Goldstein and her colleagues took hot showers to wash away the whipped cream remnants.

They've already talked about making it a bigger and better annual event.

For the time being, though, Goldstein is staying clear of Reddi-Whip.

"I'm holding it off my hot fudge sundaes for now," she added.

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