LOWELL – Sherri Sarrouf likes to move. When the fitness instructor found herself bedridden during her pregnancy 14 years ago, she spent her days thinking about children and parents whose lives were disrupted by health issues for a much longer time.
“I knew I had to do something to help other parents and children,” she said.
After delivering a healthy baby girl, Sarrouf gave birth to Fitness for the Cure, an annual event to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Today, Sarrouf’s baby girl is a high school freshman, and her fundraiser is the largest event in New England to benefit St. Jude and has raised over $2 million.
The 14th annual Fitness for A Cure event will be held this Saturday at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, where Sarrouf is hoping to raise an additional $350,000 to fund research and care for critically ill children.
“I firmly believe that those of us who are lucky enough to be healthy in mind and body have an obligation to help others,” Sarrouf said. “We tell the kids, if you fight (the disease), we will fight for you.”
Sarrouf did not have any personal connection to St. Jude when she began the benefit, but was struck by the high percentage of donated funds that went directly to research and care, and the hospital’s policy to never refuse care because of an inability to pay, she said.
Fitness for A Cure has become a two-part event, aiming to promote physical fitness and to get kids involved with helping other kids. The first part of the event is a daytime family fun day. Children can participate in a number of fitness-oriented activities, including throwing punches in a boxing ring, and shooting baskets. Singers Kristina Angelucci and the band Girls’ Night Out will perform. There will be face painting, healthy treats, and the chance to make art work to send to patients at Saint Jude. A few brave volunteers will even cut their hair on stage, in order to donate it to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for childhood cancer patients.