Kim Berkowitz had a swollen lymph node. She did not get it checked until two months later, when it began to bulge out from her neck and her mother started to worry.
That was two years ago.
“I had no clue at that point if it was life threatening or not,” said Berkowitz, now 18.
Berkowitz was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and would be transferred from Broward’s Memorial West emergency room to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
While there, Berkowitz learned about the Kiss Cares for Kids radiothon, an annual fundraiser where patients tell their stories over the airwaves.
“When I was telling my story, the phones began to ring off the hook for donations,” she said. “It was an amazing feeling.”
Since 2003, 99.9 Kiss Country has hosted the “Kiss Cares for Kids Radiothon”, a two day on-air event, at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.
It began when Joe Bell, general manager of Kiss Country at that time, decided he wanted to help raise money for people in his community. He established a partnership between the station and the hospital and began hosting the radiothon 11 years ago.
The event proved successful and has happened every year since then.
“We are partners in all that we do,” said Jackie Johnstone, director of annual giving for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, a non-profit organization. “Up to date, we have raised $1.3 million dollars.”
In 2010, the money that was raised was used to help fund the new Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, which opened its doors on July 21, 2011.
Danny Espinosa, 21, promotions coordinator, said last year, 99.9 Kiss Country raised $225,000 dollars.
“Like other radio stations, we do a lot of benefit work for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital because we know it is going to a good cause, “said Espinosa.
Every year, parents, whose children are currently receiving treatment, have been cured, or lost their children, tell their story to listeners of the station.
This year, the two-day live on air radiothon event, which will take place today and tomorrow in the lobby of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., hopes to collect the same or more funds for those families who cannot afford paying for their child’s medical expenses.
This year, along with live stories, the program will also include voiceovers of interviews that have been done over the past few weeks.
Beth Pinsky, 33, mother of Aaron Pinsky, 5, who had been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in February 2012, will be participating for the first time. She will be telling her son’s story live on Friday.
It started on Feb. 25, when Aaron, who was 4 at the time, stopped walking. His mother rushed him to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital because she knew something was terribly wrong with him.
At the hospital, the doctors performed an MRI scan on Aaron and discovered he had a very large tumor in his spine. They immediately began an emergency surgery on him to remove the tumor.
Once the tumor was removed, Aaron was transferred to the pediatric ICU, where he stayed for eight days.
“I couldn’t breathe,” said Pinsky. “My world just stopped at that moment when I found out my 4-year-old son had cancer.”
Aaron received chemotherapy treatments, along with some physical therapy, at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital from February through September.
“I didn’t want this to happen to my son, but all of the employees of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital were so supportive,” said Pinsky. “They go above and beyond anything you can imagine and are like my family now.”
Aaron is now 5. He has completed 14 rounds of chemotherapy and is cancer free. He is still attending physical therapy treatments at Joe DiMaggio, but he can already walk on his own.
“It has been a very long process, and Aaron has remained strong and brave through the whole thing,” said Pinsky. “Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has become a second home, and we will do anything to help them out for the rest of our lives because they saved my son’s life.”