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Marissa Weippert, 2011 Nassau County Trailblazer

Honored for Foundation, Dedication to Children

Hicksville resident Marissa Weippert, co-founder of The Sarah Grace Foundation for Children With Cancer, Inc., was recently named a 2011 Nassau County Trailblazer. Weippert was nominated by Legislator Rose Marie Walker (17th L.D.) and recognized at the 13th Annual “Women: Trailblazers in the New Millennium” awards ceremony held March 21 at the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola.

Each year, in observance of March being Women’s History Month, Nassau County’s 19 legislators select individuals from their respective districts who, in their opinion, have rendered significant contributions for the enhancement of the region and the betterment of residents. Nassau County “Women: Trailblazers in the New Millennium” awards are presented to residents who, like the pioneering women in history who have gone before them, “are lighting the way for all those whose lives they touch.”

In 2003, Marissa Weippert and her husband, Matt, formed the non-profit Sarah Grace Foundation For Children With Cancer, Inc. in memory of their 12-year-old daughter who lost her nine-month battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Over the past eight years, Weippert has dedicated herself to keeping her daughter’s memory alive while helping other children and their families facing the financial and emotional challenges and hardships brought upon by childhood cancer.

In addition to holding an annual blood drive and annual Night of Laughter fundraiser – this year’s is scheduled for Friday, April 8 at the Milleridge Cottage, Weippert established and runs “The Bead Program” and “The Escape Hatch” at local hospitals. Weippert also works to raise the funds the Foundation heavily relies on to provide families with financial support and other assistance to offset medical costs and other related expenses.

Additionally, Weippert and the Foundation work directly with social workers and staff members from the Pediatric Oncology Departments at various New York hospitals to help meet children’s wishes, whether it be providing a special toy, crafts or tickets to a baseball game or other special event. And, because cancer impacts the entire family, the services offered by the Foundation are available to both the child undergoing treatment as well as their siblings.

Legislator Walker said she chose Weippert as a 2011 Trailblazer because she is constantly inspired by the work Weippert and the Foundation do.

“Sadly, I got to know Marissa when her daughter Sarah passed away and it totally amazes me how she took this tragedy in her life and uses it to help others facing the same harsh realities her family had to face,” Legislator Walker said. “I cannot thank Marissa enough for what she does for other people. She truly is a remarkable woman.”

The 2011 Trailblazer award presented to Weippert states, in part, that “ … by forming the Sarah Grace Foundation, you have helped countless children and their families overcome the challenges of childhood cancer … You are the epitome of a hardworking and enterprising woman! All of these outstanding accomplishments exhibit your ingenuity, warm personality, dedication, caring, love and commitment! You are a true ‘trailblazer in the new millennium!’”

Of the recognition, Weippert said, “It was an honor to be recognized yet unfortunate that our work is necessary and so many children are stricken with this horrible disease.” She added, “We understand the physical and emotional burden childhood cancer places on the family; as long as we are able to provide some measure of comfort to them all of our efforts are worthwhile, that’s what Sarah would have wanted. “

Trailblazers are selected from each of the County’s 19 Legislative Districts. In addition to Weippert, Legislator Walker also honored fellow Hicksville resident Terrie Magro for her work as co-founder of the Michael Magro Foundation.

For more information on the Sarah Grace Foundation or to make a donation or purchase tickets to the April 8 Night of Laughter, visit www.TheSarahGrace or call 433-9745.