The GenWealth Group in Maplewood hosted its third annual GenWealth Walks for Hope on Saturday, and more than 150 participants — women, men, children and a few dogs — walked through the sunny streets of Maplewood Village to raise money for brain cancer research.
This year, the event was held in honor and memory of beloved Maplewood merchant Angelo Vayas, who passed away from brain cancer in May.
The event raised more than $10,500 (and still counting) for The Caroline Fund, which raises money and awareness for brain and spine cancer research at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“My husband Michael coined the term for our group yesterday as ‘Angelo’s Army,’ and we were 157 strong,” said Cherie Leanza of the GenWealth Group, who spearheaded the event. “To use Angelo’s words, ‘Maplewood Rocks!'”
Risa Olinsky once again planned the walk’s route and guided participants of all ages and fitness levels through the town.
Angelo’s widow, Mary, was there with their family, as were many of the Vayas’ friends, neighbors and fellow merchants.
Addressing the crowd before the walk, Cherie Leanza called Angelo “a constant source of support to two rookies” when she and Michael were launching GenWealth.
Deputy Mayor Kathleen Leventhal read a proclamation from the township in honor of the walk and the fight against brain cancer, and presented it to the Leanzas and Mary Vayas.
Stickers were available for people to write who they were dedicating their walk to. Many people wrote “Angelo,” others penned names of family members and friends. Walk participants were given bracelets that read, “Cancer Sucks.”
Those unable to attend the event can still donate through Sept. 21, by dropping off a check payable to The Caroline Fund at The GenWealth Group (6 Inwood Place, Maplewood) during business hours M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No need to call ahead.
Enjoy our photo gallery below; photos credit Claire Sinclair.