Go the Extra Mile for Kids at Children’s Hospital

Team Avery Bravery

Children’s Hospital’s Jazz Half Marathon gives new meaning to running – every mile
raising funds to support patients like Avery.

Algiers native Avery Alfortish is an ordinary eight-year-old boy. He enjoys playing baseball and soccer, takes karate and participates in CrossFit Kids. But he is also a Children’s Hospital New Orleans Superhero.

What makes Avery so special is that he is bravely fighting Medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. He is spending this summer night at Children’s Hospital with his mother while he receives chemotherapy. This is his 8th cycle with one more round to go. Avery has already completed 30 radiation treatments.

In May 2018, Avery was experiencing intermittent headaches followed by vomiting which led his parents, Danielle and Blake Alfortish, to bring him to Children’s Hospital. An MRI of his brain revealed the rapidly growing tumor.

Dr. Jerome Volk, Children’s Hospital Neurosurgeon and Clinical Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at LSU Health New Orleans, performed craniotomy surgery to remove Avery’s tumor. Volk was able to remove 98-99% of the tumor, and Avery’s MRIs have been clear ever since. Following surgery, Avery spent one month as an inpatient at Children’s Hospital, undergoing extensive rehabilitation to relearn how to walk, talk and write.

Through it all, Avery has been brave, strong and resilient. But fighting cancer can be tough, even for a Superhero. That is why every Superhero needs a Sidekick.

For the second year, Superhero Avery, along with his Sidekick family and friends are gearing up for the Jazz Half Marathon, one of Children’s Hospital’s signature events. Over 100 friends, family and supporters of Avery and the Alfortish family will proudly wear their “Team Avery Bravery” t-shirts on race day to support his fight against childhood cancer. They come together as one to support the Jazz Half Marathon fundraiser for Children’s Hospital.

A Neurosurgeon becomes a Best Friend and Ultimate Sidekick

During Avery’s treatment at Children’s Hospital, he found a friend in his physician who not only helped save Avery’s life but also gave a little something extra to his young patient who was going through a difficult time. Volk challenged Avery to beat him in the 2018 Children’s Hospital Jazz Half Marathon’s “Jazz 5K” portion of the race. Avery gladly accepted the challenge, knowing it would be a great way to show off all his physical ability he had just earned back in physical therapy.

Just four shorts months after surgery, Avery went from not being able to talk and having difficulty with his balance, to being able to run the Jazz 5K with Dr. Volk. It took a whole team of caregivers and Sidekicks across multiple disciplines to help Avery from Neurosurgery, Oncology and Rehab.

“My husband and I wholeheartedly believe that Avery is a walking, talking, thriving miracle because of Dr. Volk,” said Danielle Alfortish. “Not only did he do his absolute best in the operating room, Dr. Volk was honest with us always. The compassion and attention that he has given to Avery from day one is beyond exceptional.”

“He’s the greatest doctor to have,” added Avery.

Volk chose a career in Pediatric Neurosurgery because of the young patients.

“I have always been amazed by how resilient children with brain and spine disorders are, and by watching them improve after such tough circumstances,” said Volk. “It has always made me want to be a part of their story.”

About the Children’s Hospital Jazz Half Marathon and 5K

The 11th annual Jazz Half Marathon & 5K, benefiting Children’s Hospital will take place on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Runners have the chance to choose different course options to match every skill level. Participants can select the Jazz Half Marathon (13.1 miles), Jazz 5K (3.25 miles), and back by popular demand, the two-person Half Marathon Relay. This premier annual race draws runners from across the country and concludes with a festive, high energy party that could only be thrown in New Orleans!

Runners Love New Orleans and the Jazz Half!
The race route begins in Lafayette Square, in the CBD, proceeds up Poydras Street and past the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Runners trek down St. Charles Avenue along the iconic streetcar line to Audubon Park, then back to Lafayette Square for the finish line and the post-race celebration.

The course is perfect for runners who love flat, fast and consistent terrain. Participants enjoy beautiful scenery along the way, making their run exciting and unforgettable. Times (and distance) fly when running in one of the most picturesque cities in the country. Not to mention, late October provides some of the best and most comfortable weather of the year!

Named best in the country in 2015 by Runner’s World, the post-race party offers runners a variety of delicious local cuisine, including Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice, and Snowballs on a Stick. Abita Brewery supplies an assortment of their popular locally-brewed beers.

What’s a party without live music? Local musicians including Kermit Ruffins, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., Flow Tribe and Amanda Shaw have entertained the Jazz Half crowd during the past ten years. The post-race party gives runners a true Louisiana festival experience. As a bonus, the New Orleans Black Indian Alliance (NOBIA) is proud to provide the culture-bearing Mardi Gras Indians, who are on hand at the finish line to take photos with the runners after the race.

Why support Jazz Half? THE CAUSE

Running a half marathon or 5K is an incredible accomplishment and running for a purpose is even better. The Jazz Half Marathon & 5K is a signature fundraising event for Children’s Hospital, and all proceeds support the hospital in its mission to provide outstanding pediatric healthcare to the children and families of our community.

“I feel so proud and blessed to lead an organization that helps Superheroes like Avery every day,” said John R. Nickens IV, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital. “We hope you’ll join the fight, be a Sidekick and run the Jazz Half with us!”
For more than six decades, Children’s Hospital has been synonymous with expert pediatric healthcare in Southeast Louisiana. Today, Children’s Hospital is the only free-standing, full-service hospital exclusively for children in Louisiana and the Gulf South. Children’s Hospital is a 229-bed, not-for-profit medical center offering advanced pediatric care for children from birth to 21 years of age.

With the support of the community, funds raised by the Jazz Half Marathon & 5K will be put to work immediately, enabling Children’s Hospital to provide critical care for the sickest children and babies, fund research projects, serve families who otherwise could not afford quality healthcare and remain at the forefront of pediatric healthcare advancements.

Going the Extra Mile
A great way to help support the mission of Children’s Hospital and to help the patient Superheroes cared for every day is to sign up to run the Jazz Half Marathon (13.1 miles), Jazz Half Two-Person Relay (runner #1: 7.0 miles and runner #2: 6.1 miles), or Jazz 5K (3.25 miles).

Avery’s Little Extras
Avery just finished his second-grade school year on the Alpha Honor Roll. His favorite videogames are Minecraft and Mario Brothers. Avery loves the beach and like most kids his age, he is enjoying the summer off from school!
Register for the Jazz Half Marathon and 5K at jazzhalf.com.

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