2019 Careathon marks 25 years of helping Jacksonville-area childhood cancer families

THANK YOU, JACKSONVILLE! Careathon exceeds $200K

WOKV Care-A-Thon supports local families battling cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The 2019 Careathon raised nearly $225,000 Friday at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care for local families who have a child with cancer.

All the proceeds go to the Child Cancer Fund, which helps parents whose children have cancer pay bills, buy groceries and more.

Nerissa Reibero has seen firsthand how this money helps.

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“(My son, Junior) was in the hospital in the beginning for almost two months, and you don’t realize how much a toll that takes on the financial part of your life,” Reibero said.

Junior, who is 12, has Leukemia.

“Do you remember the feeling when you first got the diagnosis?” Action News Jax reporter Russell Colburn asked Reibero.

“I do,” she said.  “It was very difficult.  When the doctor came in and told me he had cancer, I lost it.  My world changed, but we’re getting through it.”

Many of the Action News Jax news team joined Rich Jones from our news partner 104.5 WOKV for the effort to help families such as this one.

Thankfully, doctors say Junior has a 95% chance of beating his cancer completely.

In five years, Careathon has raised nearly $1 million toward the Child Cancer Fund.

Twenty-five years ago, two mothers who were passing acquaintances joined forces when they were informed about a critical need. Joli Craver, the child life specialist in oncology at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, was told her position was being eliminated due to budget cuts.

For Jan Saltmarsh and Laura Ferrante, that was unacceptable. Miss Joli, as their children called her, was a critical ally to them. The daughters of both Saltmarsh and Ferrante were in cancer treatment and both girls actually looked forward to going to the clinic because Miss Joli made it fun.


Saltmarsh and Farrante set out on a mission to find donors who would be willing to support the child life specialist. And with that, the Child Cancer Fund was born. Twenty-five years later, Miss Joli is still entertaining kids who are in various stages of cancer treatment, and her position will forever be in place at Nemours through a restricted fund.

In 2015, News 104.5 WOKV partnered with the Child Cancer Fund to launch the WOKV Careathon, a daylong broadcast featuring stories from local childhood cancer survivors and their families. Every dollar raised through Careathon goes directly to local families through multiple programs offered by the Child Cancer Fund.

In four short years, Careathon has raised nearly $720,000. Proceeds from Careathon have helped complete the child life specialist restricted fund and have paid for financial assistance and support services offered by the Child Cancer Fund.

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Here is what a donation to the Child Cancer Fund can accomplish:

  • $1,000 pays for Mom or Dad's support group for an entire year (meals, meeting space, etc.)
  • $750 pays for a family weekend at Camp Boggy Creek in Central Florida
  • $500 covers the cost of a private tutor so a child doesn't fall behind in school
  • $100 covers the cost of a gift card for groceries for a family battling pediatric cancer
  • $50 pays for gas to get to and from treatment, in some cases daily
  • $25 pays for books with information for newly diagnosed families
  • $10 covers snacks, toys, and diversionary supplies for the Child Life Specialist to use with a child

Volunteers from the Child Cancer Fund and Cox Media Group Jacksonville will be taking donations by phone from 5am - 6pm on Friday at 855-636-6877. Secure donations can be made online directly to the Child Cancer Fund.  Donations can be made through the 2019 Careathon Auction, which is open until Monday, July 15th at 12pm.