The Om Foundation strives to raise money at their annual 5k community event.
What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear about the Om Foundation? For me, it is optimism. The Om Foundation, and everyone who has contributed towards it, have created a positive and inclusive environment by bringing communities together to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
Pediatric cancer is a type of cancer faced by children under the age of 18. It can affect various parts of the body and it remains a significant cause of illness and death in children. Pediatric cancer encompasses several types of cancer, including leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, and brain tumors such as oligodendroglioma, which is what Om Parikh was diagnosed with at the age of 10. Detecting an exact cause is not always easy and from an emotional standpoint, a cancer diagnosis is often difficult for children and families to face.
The Om Foundation is a local 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization that raises pediatric cancer awareness and raises funding for research towards this cause. When the Parikh family lost their young son and brother, Om Parikh, to brain cancer in 2018, they chose optimism by focusing their efforts on improving pediatric cancer research by cultivating a supportive community of families and friends. Om was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10 and passed away only 3 years later when he was in eighth grade.
After his passing, the Parikh family made it a goal to stay optimistic throughout their grieving and make his name a legacy.
Om’s father, Ketul Parikh, told India Abroad, “…We hope to turn the tragic loss of our son into something positive to help all children by creating awareness, education, and funding for better research for children’s cancer prevention and treatment.”
Not only do they reach this goal yearly, but they also continue to bring smiles to people’s faces in honor of Om. Pediatric cancer research aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer. It has made significant progress in recent years, resulting in improved survival rates for many childhood cancers. However, there is still much to learn, and ongoing research efforts are critical to continue advancing our understanding and treatment options for pediatric cancers. The ultimate goal is to improve the health and quality of life for children with cancer.
The Om Foundation has done many things so far to help with pediatric
cancer research such as presenting $120,000 of a $150,000 pledge to
the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
From their website, smilesforom.org, “The Om Foundation strives to support programs and initiatives that bring smiles, positive attitudes, and the power of perseverance to school-age children. We also provide financial and other assistance to children fighting cancer, as well as support education and research that help prevent or terminate childhood cancer.”
Their efforts to raise awareness for pediatric cancer are put into light at their annual Om Memorial 5k Run and Walk. Cheering on the diverse pool of runners and watching them participate in the Om 5k is a special memory for me. It put into perspective just how many people support the cause, all the way from little children up to those who were probably four times my age. It's a great thing to be able to watch our community come out and help raise funds for pediatric cancer research, and I hope we can continue to do that in years to come. With the amount of love and support that the Om Foundation receives every year, it’s easy to see just how astounding and important the Om 5k is to both the Monroe Township and pediatric cancer research communities.