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Kate Van Winkle Blanket Satement

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A heartwarming story about Tomorrows Children’s Fund’s survivor, Kate Van Winkle. This article was originally run in the October Downtown Rutherford monthly.

It’s always wonderful to learn about someone who beat cancer. It’s equally as rewarding to learn how that survivor is helping other cancer patients with their own battles. Kate Van Winkle, longtime Rutherford resident and Rutherford High School graduate (when she was known as Kate Baviello), was diagnosed with a Stage 1 Wilms tumor in her kidney in 2005 at age16. Once the tumor was discovered, her kidney was removed and she began 18 weeks of chemotherapy at Hackensack University Medical Center. She went through treatment, and soon realized how many resources were available to patients, like her, and their families. The brand new mother of triplets knew that once she recovered, she needed to find a way to pay it forward.

Downtown Rutherford: You’ve been working with Tomorrow’s Children Fund in Hackensack since 2005. Tell us about your efforts.

KATE: While I was undergoing treatment, my mom Cathy and I met Susan Garbe, the administrative director of Tomorrow’s Children Fund (TCF). Mrs. Garbe had a son who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 15, and he is now the same age as I am. She told us about the blanket drive that TCF conducts, and my mom and I decided we definitely wanted to help.

Susan says the huge blanket drive you host for Tomorrow’s Children is tremendous, and that the patients absolutely love it. 

KATE: Well, my mom and I started getting the word out about the blanket drive by asking local organizations and residents to donate new blankets for children undergoing cancer treatment at the hospital. We usually begin the drive in the fall, after Thanksgiving. But we do accept donations throughout the year. During chemotherapy treatment, a child’s body temperature lowers, plus hospitals are generally cold, so children really appreciate blankets that keep them warm during chemo and other hospital stays. We ask people to donate blankets at the 55 Kip Center in Rutherford, where my mom works as volunteer director.

Now that you have children of your own—triplets, by the way! — you must feel even more dedicated to helping other children who are suffering.

KATE: I think that providing children who are undergoing cancer treatment with blankets is just one way to focus on them and their families. Making sure they have blankets and visiting the children at the hospital is like giving them a different form of medicine.

You were born and raised in Rutherford and you even married your high school sweetheart. And you have three wonderful babies! Life is good!

KATE: Well, yes, I did marry my high school sweetheart, Rob. We dated throughout school, and he was with me the entire time I went through my treatment. We both grew up in this town and love it here. Last year, I found out I was pregnant. We soon learned that I wasn’t just expecting one baby, but three babies! On April 1, our three babies—Charlotte, Henry and Jack—were born!

 Interview: Jennifer Mariano Ersalesi


Photography: Jessica Santora

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