Sue and Ed Goldstein, founders of The Valerie Fund, have been selected as the 2016 recipients of the New Jersey Hall Of Fame (NJHOF) Unsung Hero Award.
The Unsung Hero Award was presented at the formal induction ceremony on May 7, at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., by previous Unsung Heroes Lt. Brian Brennan and Eric LeGrand.
The award recognizes New Jersey’s local heroes, people who are game-changers but are not typically recognized for their work in improving the lives of people in our great state. Nominations are made by the general public, NJOH chooses 5 finalists, and the winners are selected by prior Unsung Hero recipients. Previous recipients include first responders injured in the line of duty, Holocaust educators and others who have overcome obstacles to accomplish great things and make a difference in their communities.
“There are so many inspirational individuals in our state who don’t seem to receive the recognition they deserve. The Unsung Hero Award was established as a way for these difference-makers to be recognized publically, and to establish their rightful place among the state’s most honored celebrities,” said Bart Oates, NJHOF Board Member.
Sue and Ed Goldstein, longtime New Jersey residents, suffered an unthinkable tragedy not once, but twice: losing both their daughters to cancer. In the face of their grief, the Goldsteins used their losses to help others, creating programs in the wake of each daughter’s passing. Their extraordinary efforts over the past 40 years resulted in the creation of The Valerie Fund and The Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Both organizations continue to provide hope and life-saving treatment for thousands of people.
“We are deeply honored by our induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. This award represents all that The Valerie Fund has accomplished in helping children and their families in their battle to defeat pediatric cancer and blood disorders within our Valerie Fund Children’s Centers,” said the Goldsteins.
The Valerie Fund, based in Maplewood, N.J., started in 1976 in the living room of the Goldsteins’ home after their nine-year-old daughter Valerie died of cancer. They were determined that no family should have to travel great distances to receive superior medical care and began a fundraising crusade which led to the opening of the first pediatric oncology facility in New Jersey at Summit’s Overlook Hospital in 1977. Today, The Valerie Fund features a network of seven hospital-based outpatient facilities, six of which are in New Jersey, and provides access to compassionate care for thousands of children battling cancer and blood disorders.
“The Goldsteins are authentic heroes, the kind of people we should look up to every day,” said Steve Edwards, President of the New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation. “When confronted with tragedy and adversity, they had a choice as to what to do with their grief, and they chose to help others and have continued to do so every day since the 1970s. That is incredible and why we are so proud to present Sue and Ed with the NJHOF Unsung Hero Award and showcase their inspiring story and contributions to the community through The Valerie Fund.”
The Unsung Hero Award was developed in 2009 to recognize a true American hero, Lieutenant Brian Brennan. Lt. Brennan, along with three other soldiers and a civilian, were the victims of two improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Although he suffered from life-threatening injuries, Lt. Brennan miraculously awoke from his coma and has made an incredible recovery. The 2009 Unsung Hero award was presented to Lt. Brennan by General David T. Petraeus, a moment no-one in the audience will ever forget. The award has since recognized major influencers such as paralyzed former Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand and Expect to Win author Carla Harris.
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