Each year at our Life Is Sweet Gala Benefit, STOMP The Monster honors individuals who are making a positive impact on the fight against cancer. Here are our past honorees.
The Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award is given to an individual who exhibits strength and bravery, inspires others, is grateful and giving, and makes a positive impact on people’s lives.
Thomas Rosamilia (1961-2011)
The world is a better place because of Thomas Rosamilia. Whether you knew him for years or just met for a few moments, you knew how special he was and how your life would be changed forever. Thomas was a dynamic man. Every day he witnessed beauty, joy, love, and limitless potential in everything and everyone. Even as he struggled through many twists and turns of his illnesses, he had an inner peace that had a way of putting everyone he met at ease. His wit, intelligence, and personality drew people to him. He showed strength and bravery and undoubted faith. He believed and had little fear. His memory will live on through all the good deeds done by those he inspired.
2017 Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award Winner
BA, CSW – CentraState Medical Center
Deborah “Deb” had early aspiration of becoming a social worker; observing parents who belonged to numerous community, civic, charitable and religious organizations. The seeds of compassion and volunteerism were modeled, and became deeply rooted. She is a 1979 graduate from Ramapo College of NJ. Residing in Bergen County at the time, she worked as a social worker with Bergen Pines County Hospital, visiting the home bound elderly, providing support and essential services, with a goal of enabling them to remain in their own homes. Deb married Jim Smith in 1982 and moved to Monmouth County. She joined CentraState Medical Center (then called Freehold Area Hospital), as a social worker in 1984. Deb has worked in several clinical areas within the hospital setting, but has been very passionate about her work in End of Life Counseling and Oncology Support, since 2000. She has a deep love and commitment for providing emotional support to those who are critically ill and facing life limiting illness. She feels privileged to provide support, and education about valuable resources for coping, to those who are beginning Radiation Therapy treatment. A personal diagnosis of cancer in 2015 reaffirmed her belief in the value of support for those facing cancer. Deb is proud to be a part of the CentraState Medical Center Cancer Services team, a group and healthcare system, whose mission has been the compassionate delivery of healthcare. Deb began her study of Reiki in 2002 when she observed cancer patients having distress & physical symptoms from their diseases, and treatment; that could not always be alleviated with medication. She became a Reiki Master, and has incorporated Reiki and other holistic modalities into her practice. Deb has also been deeply committed to volunteerism through the Freehold Township Schools, PTA, and serving on the Red Bank Catholic PTA board. Deb is a member of, and supports various ministries at St. Peter’s Church, Freehold; which has a strong focus on outreach to the homeless, poor and those suffering from addiction. Deb became involved, and volunteers for The Graeme Preston Foundation for Life; an organization that began, following the death of a close friend, Graeme Preston, at age 12. The GP Foundation carries out various charitable works for individuals, and organizations within the Freehold community facing hardship. Deb is particularly proud that her daughter Amanda, a 2015 graduate of the University of Delaware has joined the fight against cancer, and works for the American Cancer Society.
2015 Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award Winner
Marybeth Walz is a lifelong resident of Middletown, NJ and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Children Foundation, NJ (HFCF). HFCF is a registered 501c3 comprised of a group of professionals, entrepreneurs and parents in Monmouth County working together to raise funds with the end result of making a significant positive difference in the lives of children. Originated in 2002, HFCF has evolved into a leading fundraising organization in Monmouth County, donating over $2 million to local charities and families in need. Aside from HFCF, Marybeth is actively involved with helping many other charitable organizations throughout NJ. She works tireless in her efforts to enrich the lives of families in Monmouth County and is considered a go to person within the community when things need to get done. Aside from Marybeth’s charitable work, she has spent the last 20 years in telecommunication sales where she has earned herself a stellar reputation through her work ethic, dedication and reliability. Marybeth is a cancer survivor who has been in remission for almost 14 years. Diagnosed with cancer in 2001, Marybeth lost her ability to carry children. Although devastated with the news, she never gave up on her dream of having a family. In May of 2013, Marybeth’s sister in law, Colleen, became the gestational surrogate of Marybeth’s biological twin boys that were to be due on Valentines Day. On November 19th, 2013, at 28 weeks gestation, Colleen went into premature labor. Jude Edward Lavery Walz and Donald Thaddeus William Walz “Thad” blessed this world with their presence. Unimaginable, Marybeth experience the first of Many heartbreaking moments when Thad passed away from a pulmonary hemorrhage on the second day of his life. Although devastated, Marybeth pulled herself together, gathered strength and devoted herself to Jude. Marybeth never left his side. Days before Jude was to be released from the hospital, doctors discovered a mass in his abdomen. On the day that Thad was to be buried, Jude and Marybeth were airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where Jude was diagnosed with Infantile Fibro Sarcoma, a rare form on congenital cancer. Jude spent four months fighting harder than anyone should ever have to. Yet through this precious baby’s suffering, his unwavering strength made such a difference in so many lives. On Thursday, May 22, 2014, after a long and very courageous fight, Sweet Baby Jude lost his battle with cancer. Since then Marybeth has aligned herself with pediatric cancer organizations so that she can help others dealing with this horrible disease.
2014 Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award Winners
Joseph Eid, MD is a clinical research professional with seventeen years of experience in oncology clinical medicine. As Global Director of Scientific Affairs in Oncology for Merck & Co., Dr. Eid is responsible for establishing and directing the development of clinical trials for early and late stage compounds to treat complex medical issues, including cancer and sickle cell. Dr. Eid manages teams of oncologists and scientists and sets the strategic direction for the clinical development plan, including approving study design and protocols. Dr. Eid provides leadership on a full range of complex medical and scientific issues. He is known for taking the initiative to collaborate across boundaries and build strong relationships with academia, clinicians and patient advocates.
In January 2009 while Michele Gannon was recovering from an illness, she wondered how many women who were in far more dire circumstances took care of their children and families. This thought grew into a vision, which we now know as Mary’s Place By the Sea. Michele shared this vision with a friend and fellow mother, Maria McKeon, and together they developed this honorable establishment. Mary’s Place is located in Ocean Grove in a beautiful Victorian home, barely a block from the ocean. In just a few short years, hundreds of women have found peace and assistance through traditional and alternative medicine. Yoga, Oncological massage, nutritious meals and group workshops are just a few of the beneficial services available to women during their stay at Mary’s Place By the Sea. Or maybe a woman would just like to find solace and comfort; she will find it here. Mary’s Place has had hundreds of volunteers and numerous fundraisers in order to support women during their ultimate battle and relieve any evident stress. Stomp the Monster could not be more proud to honor these founders and the amazing work that they have accomplished. Giving a woman peace of mind and nurturing her soul is the overall objective of Mary’s Place. It is through selfless service that Mary’s Place came to be, and will continue to be, with these wonderful women who run this establishment.
2013 Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award Winners
Shira & Justin Klein of Smiles for Shira
Shira Klein is a mother of three, wife and beautiful friend who always has a smile on her face. In January 2011, Shira was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma while on a family vacation. Through many chemotherapy treatments and surgeries, that smile has never left. After having an Auto-Stem Cell transplant, Shira had relapsed and found out that she would need an Allo (donor) transplant. The search began for finding her a donor. Shira and her husband Justin began to get involved with DKMS America, the largest bone marrow registry in the world. A plea had gone out from Justin for help in finding Shira a potential match. This resulted in the establishment of Smiles For Shira. Justin and Shira along with many volunteers, have been so successful in forming their own bone marrow drives across the country. To date there have been 9,734 people swabbed and fourteen people have become life saving matches through Smiles For Shira! This is simply amazing! Stomp The Monster could not be more proud then to team up with Smiles For Shira, and to honor Justin and Shira for their selfless service in helping to save lives. This couple is so deserving to receive the Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award. They will always keep us smiling!
Dena Sherwood of the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation
On July 6, 2008, Dena and Billy’s son Billy Jr, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. That day had changed their lives forever–they would fight for Billy’s life, as well as become an advocate for so many other children. A year after Billy’s diagnosis, Dena founded Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation. It was founded to fund less toxic treatments for children with cancer, and to bring hope to other families fighting the battle. Today at the age of five, little Billy is doing fantastic after numerous chemotherapy treatments and surgeries. Today he is declared NED, no evidence of disease! Arms Wide Open has funded several childhood cancer treatments throughout hospitals around the country. Through Dena’s selfless service, she’s been the voice for children, and will continue to raise awareness and help fund a cure for neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers. Stomp The Monster is so proud to be honoring Mrs. Dena Sherwood of Arms Wide Open with the Thomas Rosamilia Inspiration Award.
The Christian Bocchiaro Volunteer Award goes to the person whose giving spirit, strength, and love of life permeate every part of their being. This person has selflessly given time, energy, and passion to STOMP The Monster, and encapsulates what volunteering is all about.
Christian R. Bocchiaro (1977-2009)
Everyone knew Christian Bocchiaro by his bright smile and his contagious laugh. His casual demeanor and great personality made him everybody’s friend. He was full of energy and passion. Any room brightened as soon as he entered it. The mood became lighter and the laughter became louder. He was confident and loyal. Honest and true blue. Feisty and strong. He was the first one there to help in any situation, volunteering his handiness, his friendship, or his heart wherever it was needed. During Christian’s fight with advanced cancer, people rallied around him, just trying to give back one ounce of what he gave them every day of his life. His nurses felt that Christian was one of a kind, and said they never had anyone like him before. His oncologist said that Christian was his favorite patient of all time. Christian never complained, was angry, or asked “Why me?” In typical style, he just faced his challenge head-on. And he never, ever stopped fighting. He showed people how to take life one day at a time and to try to do something that made them happy every single day. He inspired everyone he met to be a better person with his giving spirit and loving heart.
Stomp The Monster is extremely fortunate to have amazing volunteers that assist us in all of our events, fundraising, and activities. Our list of these amazing individuals could go on and on! Those who go above and beyond need to be recognized for their selfless service. Every year at our annual Life is Sweet Gala, we award The Christian Bocchiaro Volunteer Award to an individual(s) who go above and beyond the act of volunteerism. The following are our past recipients:
Paul & Christine Jensen
Chris & Lynda Naspo
Jennifer and Steve Schippert
We are so proud to be able to call these amazing volunteers part of our STOMP Family!