Kids can run for fun — and support Matheny

Kids Fun Run at Miles for Matheny in 2011.

Grab your kids’ sneakers and sign them up for the Kids Fun Run at Miles for Matheny. The Kids Fun Run enables children ages 10 and under to join together in friendship and fun while being introduced to “running for a cause.”

This event is designed especially for young children. It’s a short sprint that gives everyone a chance to be a winner in a very non-competitive atmosphere. Every runner receives a medal after crossing the finish line. The races start at 11:30 a.m., and are broken into four categories: ages 3-4, 50 yards; 5-6, 75 yards; 7-8, 100 yards; and 9-10, 150 yards. 

The 15th annual Miles for Matheny will be held Sunday, April 22, in downtown Peapack, NJ. All funds raised help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny’s inpatients and people with disabilities in the community.

The Morristown, NJ.-based law firm Porzio Bromberg & Newman, which also has offices in Princeton, New York City and Westborough, MA, has been sponsoring the Kids Fun Run since its inception several years ago.

In addition to the Kids Fun Run, there is a 5K Race, five different Cycling routes, and the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk. For more information and to register, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Mardi Gras for Matheny

From left, John Paul and Jeanne May of Bridgewater with their son, Henry and daughter, Ginger. Their other son, Mason, is a residential student at Matheny.

The Verve Bistro Bar Lounge in Somerville was packed with customers on Fat Tuesday, February 21, to celebrate Mardi Gras and support Matheny. We will get 10% of the Fat Tuesday proceeds, in addition to funds raised from a Mardi Gras mask silent auction that continued through the weekend. Many of the masks were created by Matheny staff members including several of the facilitators in Matheny’s Arts Access Program.

A special thank you to owner Rick St. Pierre. Since opening Verve in the late 1990s, he has continually given back to the community, and he was named Somerville’s 2011 Citizen of the Year.  We certainly support and agree with that award!

From left, David Christiansen and Nancy Allegar of Stockton with Verve owner, Rick St. Pierre.

Walking the Miles

Adult patient Jessica Evans enjoying the Wheelchair Walk.

The late Lu Huggins was the inspiration and one of the founders of Miles for Matheny, the annual fundraiser and community event, which will be held Sunday, April 22, in downtown Peapack, NJ. Huggins, a former Matheny trustee, was determined to lead a normal life despite being in wheelchair. She also always wanted to make sure Matheny students and patients had a chance to experience “what life was like in the real world.”

At the 15th annual Miles for Matheny, more than 100 children and adults in wheelchairs, with walking partners, will travel 1.5 miles through town. Our students and patients look forward to this walk each year. Come walk with us, cheer us from the sidelines and form a team to raise funds to support this event.

All money raised at Miles for Matheny supports the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to our inpatients and to children and adults with disabilities in the community. In addition to the Wheelchair Walk, there is a 5K race, five Cycling routes and a Kids Fun Run. Everything will take place downtown in Liberty Park, accompanied by a Breakfast of Champions, courtesy of The Friends of Matheny and refreshments throughout the day.

For more information, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

It’s easy to fundraise online

The Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk returns to downtown Peapack this year.

You want to raise money to support Miles for Matheny, but you don’t know how. The first step is to log onto Then register for the event you select. You can either join an existing team, create a new team or register as an individual.

After you register, you will have a home page on the Miles for Matheny website. This is a centralized location for you to view and edit your personal fundraising goal, track individual and team fundraising progress, view web traffic and email statistics.

If this sounds complicated, go to the homepage and look on the left for the Need help with your page? Click here for information message, and we will walk you through the process. If you’re still confused, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260, or email for additional help.

All funds raised at Miles for Matheny help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny’s inpatients and people with disabilities in the community. So, whether you’re running, cycling, walking or just cheering, join us on Sunday, April 22, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ.


“Pure Expression” on display

Arts Access artist Michael Young. At right is his painting, “Motorcycle Shop.”

“Pure Expression,” an exhibition of paintings by artists in Matheny’s Arts Access Program, opened Sunday, Feb. 12, with a reception at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ. The exhibit runs through March 18. We hope you stop by to see our artists’ wonderful artwork.

Arts Access enables people with disabilities to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators. Through the use of specialized communication and choice systems, the artists can follow their creative passions, building on their instincts and inner strengths. Through this ability to create fine art, the artists, many of whom are non-verbal, are able to distinguish themselves through their achievements rather than being defined by their disabilities.

In addition to painting, the Arts Access Program includes digital art, dance and choreography, sculpture, writing and drama.

The Monmouth Museum is a private, non-profit organization located at 765 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft on the campus of Brookdale Community College. Admission is $7; for hours and additional information, call (732) 747-2266 or log onto

Coni Lefferts of Keyport, NJ, in front of “Randy and His Wife Stephanie” by Mark Riddle.



Meet our new recruits

Fred Okun helps unload donations brought by Gloria Radlmann of Tewksbury.

When Fred and Nancy Okun of Basking Ridge, NJ, attended Full Circle, the annual celebration of Matheny’s Arts Access Program, this past November, they didn’t know they were going to be recruited as volunteers at the Second Chance Shop, a thrift shop run by Matheny’s auxiliary group, The Friends of Matheny. But they happened to bump into Linda Horton, a friend from Peapack who is on Matheny’s Board of Trustees and also manages the shop. The rest is history.

Nancy Okun now volunteers as a salesperson one Thursday a month, and, since Monday is the only day of the week that the shop accepts merchandise donations, Fred Okun comes to the shop every Monday to help collect and unload the clothing, books and knicknacks that local residents drop off.

Nancy Okun is a retired pharmacist, “but my repressed desire,” she admits, “was always to have an antiques store. So, maybe this is good training.” Fred Okun is also retired, from a career at GE Healthcare. Helping out at the shop, he says, “gives you a good feeling.”

The Friends of Matheny has raised more than $3 million since its formation in 1983. Last year, the Second Chance Shop earned more than $88,000.

Nancy Okun is ready to welcome her first customer.



Hitting the switches

Five-year-old student Jack Harter hits a switch in response to a question from speech-language pathologist Christine Mayercik.

Speech-language pathologists search tirelessly for ways in which non-verbal children can communicate. Thanks to a donation from The Friends of Matheny, Matheny’s auxiliary group, the Matheny School has been provided with a brand new supply of augmentative communication switches, which can be used by younger students to express themselves.

In a recent classroom session, senior speech-language pathologist Christine Mayercik showed how they work. She combined images on a DynaVox speech-generating device with the preschool game Uno Moo to help students match animal figures and colors and answer questions about both. “If we put a blue sheep on a blue farmer, what are we matching, animals or colors?” she asked. The students would hit one switch for animals and another switch for colors.

The additional switches have had a positive impact on the students’ ability to communicate, and the hope is that this ability will continue to improve and expand. The inability to communicate is particularly frustrating for those students who understand what is going on around them but lack the ability to express themselves.

As part of a collaborative team, speech-language pathologists such as Mayercik provide complete assessments of speech and language and develop and implement programs to meet each student’s individual needs.

Ride on!

Cyclists will have new routes this year.

The five cycling routes at the 15th annual Miles for Matheny will have a new look. After three years with the same routes, Lee Brush, a resident of Annandale and former president of the Bedminster Flyers cycling club, felt it was time for a change. The 12-mile route is now 10 miles, the 23-mile route is now 25 miles and the 32-mile ride is now 35 miles. The 50 miles and Hills of Attrition rides will remain the same.

The 10-mile distance is the “family friendly” route. In the past, it hadn’t been so friendly because there were some difficult hills and the route crossed a highway.

All cycling rides will use the Whitehouse Station branch of our cycling sponsor, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, as a rest stop, reducing our rest stop locations from four to one. This will make delivery and pickup of supplies easier and should be more interesting for the riders and volunteers at the stop.

Miles for Matheny will be held Sunday, April 22, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ. The 50-mile and Hills of Attrition rides take off at 10 a.m.; 25 and 35-mile rides start at 10:45 a.m.; and the 10-mile ride leaves at 11:45 a.m.

Miles for Matheny also includes a Kids Fun Run at 11:30 a.m.; a 5K race at 12:15 p.m.; and the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk at 1 p.m. All funds raised help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny’s inpatients and to children and adults with disabilities in the community.

For more information, log onto or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Mask madness

Arts Access facilitation manager Keith Garletts shows off his mask.

When you come to our Fat Tuesday Fundraiser to benefit Matheny next week, we hope you walk away with a new mask.

Hosted by the Verve Bistro Bar Lounge, the Mardi Gras-Carnivale Party features a mask auction—a key component of the fundraising activities made possible by members of Matheny’s Arts Access staff.  In Arts Access, people with disabilities are able to create fine art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators.  The Mardi Gras event is an opportunity for the facilitators to tap their own creative juices to benefit Matheny.

On February 21, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Matheny, and anyone making a reservation on February 17 or 18 and mentioning Matheny will automatically redirect 10% of the bill to Matheny as well.

Verve is located at 18 East Main St. in Somerville. To make reservations for the Mardi Gras celebration, call 908 707-8655 and mention Matheny.

Studio coordinator Andrew Edge behind his mask.



Our pharmacy is open for business

Celebrating the official opening of the Matheny in-house pharmacy are, from left: Cathy Church, RN, director of nursing services; Denise Bettinger, Certified Pharmacy technician (CPht); Donna Mustillo, RPh; Steve Proctor, Matheny president; Robert Wysocki, pharmacy director; and David Wong, Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD).

Matheny dispenses between 62,000 and 65,000 doses of medication a month to our 101 inpatients, so the need for an in-house pharmacy has been apparent for some time. That goal has finally been accomplished, under the leadership of the pharmacy’s director, Robert Wysocki. The main advantage to having a pharmacy in-house, he points out, is “the clinical interaction between us and the doctors and nurses. Now, if there’s an issue, we can just walk down the hall.”

Many of the children and adults who live at Matheny, in addition to their primary diagnoses, have a long list of associated clinical conditions such as seizure disorders and dysphagia, with resulting aspiration problems. Because of these medically complex conditions, the proper medications are critical to their well-being.

Improving computer skills

Computer access is a vital tool in helping improve the quality of life for Matheny students and patients.

Matheny has received a Quality of Life grant of $7,431 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in the Assistive Technology Initiative category. The grant will enable Matheny to acquire eye tracking equipment and scanning software “for kids that can’t use their hands to operate a computer but have good visual skills,” says Christine Mayercik, senior speech-language pathologist. “We’re hoping this will be a way to motivate them.”

At Matheny, technology is at the forefront of efforts to broaden our patients’ and students’ ability to live as normal a life as possible. Speech-language pathologists continually explore various ways to accomplish this.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation regularly awards grants to non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals with paralysis. Quality of Life grants are awarded to programs or projects that improve these individuals’ daily lives. Joseph Canose, a senior vice president at the Foundation, said the competition for funds this year was “extremely fierce.”

Put on your dancin’ shoes—for a good cause

Ryan O'Connor.

If you like to dance, want to help Matheny—or better yet, both—save Friday, April 20. That’s the date for the Dance-A-Thon at Immaculate Conception School in Annandale, NJ, which this year will benefit Matheny.

Debbie O’Connor, whose eight-year-old son Ryan is a student at the Matheny School, is the Social Concerns chair of Immaculate Conception’s Home and School Association. She suggested Matheny as this year’s beneficiary, saying, “Matheny tries to provide these children with every opportunity to experience life at the highest quality possible. They set no boundaries for any of these children but allow them to thrive in a safe medical environment.”

Sharing her own experience, she said, “We were told there was no chance Ryan would ever walk. On Christmas Day 2008, at the age of almost six, Ryan stood up and walked, completely unassisted for an extended period of time. This would never have been possible if he were not in the hands of the staff at Matheny.”

For more information, contact Debbie O’Connor at

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