Lacing Up To Fight Children’s Cancer


Sarah Grace Foundation to host second annual virtual 5K

Hicksville High School Jaybirds robotic team taking part in last year’s virtual 5K
(Photo courtesy of the Sarah Grace Foundation)

Ever since Matthew and Marissa Weippert lost their then 12-year-old daughter to a nine-month battle with Acute Lympoblastic Leukemia back in November 2002, the Weipperts, along with son James, have continued helping out via the founding of their Sarah Grace Foundation For Children With Cancer. The goal of the Hicksville-based nonprofit organization is to improve the quality of life of children with cancer and provide comfort and support to families of children suffering from cancer.

Not unlike many other charitable foundations, the pandemic and its accompanying social distancing public health protocols made it difficult to collect donations via more traditional in-person methods. One of the pivots the Sarah Grace Foundation did was host the Hugs for Sarah Virtual 5K last year, which counted 75 participants and raised roughly $5,0000. The brainstorming for a unique event came via some creative brainstorming that wound up with a clever idea and catchphrase from the elder Weippert’s son.

“We were trying to think outside the box as far as what kind of virtual events we could have as opposed to in person,” Matthew explained. “Sarah would have been 31 at the end of March last year while we were speaking with our son one day, he suggested we do a virtual 5K. When I asked him what made him think of that, he said Sarah was going to be 31 and a 5K is 3.1 miles. He came up with the catchphrase, ‘Sarah was going to be 31, let’s run the 3.1.’ I thought that was pretty good.”

This year will be the second running of the event. Participants can register online ( from March 21 to April 30 with a $35 registration fee. All entrants receive a custom race bib and medal. In addition, anyone registering prior to March 31 will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card as well. An email address is required during registration in order for participants to receive their race bibs and all entrants must also provide a street address to receive their medals. Registrants have until May 31 to complete the race. Last year Weippert saw participants hailing not only from Long Island (like the Hicksville High School Jaybirds robotics team and the Weipperts’ new home in Davenport, FLA, but other states including Ohio, Texas and Kansas. There are further social media aspects tied to this event that Weippert hopes spread the word about the Sarah Grace Foundation.
“What we encourage people to do is post pictures on Facebook or Instagram and tag it #HugsForSarah5k or to send us pictures,” he said.

All proceeds from the race will support the programs and activities of all-volunteer Sarah Grace Foundation for Children With Cancer. Core programs include The Escape Hatch, Chemo Duck, The Bead Program, Sarah Grace’s Book Angels and holiday activities. The Foundation also provides financial aid for families, including meals, transportation, household and funeral expenses. The next event will be a clothing drive held at Hicksville High School were a Big Drop-Off will take place on Saturday, March 12.

Visit the foundation’s website at to donate online. If you would prefer to mail a donation, it can be mailed to the Sarah Grace Foundation at 17 East Old Country Rd., Unit B, PMB 202, Hicksville NY 11801.

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