Leloia Family and Friends Honor Jeff and “Pay it Forward”

Malena Attar Press

Alyson Leloia and her family and friends are coming together to honor her late husband, Jeff Leloia, at Good Grief’s 5K Run and Walk for Hope at Giralda Farms in Madison, NJ, on Sunday, June 2, 2019. The annual event raises funds and awareness to help children and families after the death of a mom, dad, sister, or brother. The Leloias are one of the 376 families—representing nearly 900 individuals—that receive free, unlimited support from Good Grief.

After a three year battle with brain cancer, Jeff died at the age of 35, leaving his wife, Alyson, and their two children, 7-year-old Vanessa and 4-year-old Nicholas. “His death was the most heartbreaking experience. There have been good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments. Right now, it’s still very raw,” says Alyson.  At the time of Jeff’s death, Alyson was already familiar with the support Good Grief provides to families coping with the death of a loved one. She enrolled her family immediately.

“Going to Good Grief gives my daughter the opportunity to cope as best she can so this terrible situation is turned into a positive circumstance.  It’s important that she sees there are other kids that are going through the same thing, and that she’s not alone,” Alyson said, adding that she feels the same impact in her adult groups.

In addition to giving the Leloias the tools to cope with their loss, Good Grief creates the space for families to remember those they have lost. Alyson reflected, “Jeff stayed very hopeful throughout his fight with cancer. He always had a positive attitude, and that is how I am choosing to live going forward, and it has put things in life in perspective.”

The Leloias, their friends, and family are looking forward to honoring Jeff and spending the day together  at Good Grief’s 6th Annual 5K Run and Walk for Hope. The 5K is a fun, family-friendly event that attracts over 1,200 participants. It creates an opportunity for the community to support friends and families, while empowering grieving families to honor their loved ones who have died and to support the organization that helped them through their loss.

Runners, walkers, and teams of local businesses, civic groups, schools, and families participate in either a 5K run or 2-mile family-friendly walk through the beautiful Giralda Farms complex. In addition to the 5K and 2-Mile walk, there is food, activities, and the crowd favorite- Kids’ Dashes. Teams spend time fundraising, creating t-shirts, and decorating banners.

“Jeff touched so many lives, and we’ve had so much support,” Alyson reflected. When she learned about the 5K Run and Walk for Hope, and that Good Grief relies on donations to provide its programs at no cost to families, she knew it was the perfect annual event for the Leloia Family to honor Jeff and to pay it forward. “There is something for everyone to come together at this event. If you can’t run, you can walk. The kids can participate with kids’ dashes. It’s local. It’s a great time of year. We want to raise money to help Good Grief, to help other families—that is where my mindset is right now: helping other people.”

For more information on the event, and to volunteer, register, or become a sponsor, visit www.good-grief.org/5K.

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Good Grief is respected as a national leader in delivering grief services to children and their families.  It is the leading provider of these services in New Jersey serving over 1,000 children since its founding in 2004.  Good Grief is a registered 501(c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unlimited free support to children, teens and families after the death of a parent or sibling.  Servicing more than 160 communities, we operate programs in Morristown, Princeton, Jersey City, and Newark. For more information about Good Grief, please visit our web site www.good-grief.org.