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In Support of the International Day of the African Child, Roche Hosts Annual Children's Walk

NUTLEY, N.J., June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- What can one company do to help children affected by HIV in NJ as well as thousands of miles away in Africa? If you speak to employees at Roche, the answer is plenty.

In response to this need, Roche sponsored it eighth annual Roche Children's Walk(1) today to raise funds to support children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in New Jersey and Malawi, Africa in support of the International Day of the African Child(2). Nearly 700 Roche employees have volunteered for the 5K Walk this year, through the township of Nutley, for which they collected donations and Roche matches the funds. Roche has raised approximately 7 million Swiss francs ($5.9 million US) since the first walk in 2003 and almost 80,000 employees have taken part around the globe.

"The Children's Walk really does rally our entire campus around this cause. Every year I am humbled by the energy of my colleagues and their determination to make an impact in both our local NJ communities and continents away in Malawi," said Patricia Hughes, director, Corporate Relations and Contributions at Roche. "The Walk truly exemplifies the commitment of Roche to be a socially responsible partner."

Since 2003 funds raised by the Children's Walk have helped to:

  • establish and equip five orphan centers, helping over 13,000 orphans;
  • provide 4 million meals to these children;
  • produce nearly 30,000 school uniforms;
  • provide over 2,000 orphaned children with primary health care; and
  • support close to 100 children each year through secondary education.

By continuing to support these projects through this annual fundraising event, Roche aims to make permanent sustainable change in Malawi. This principle of sustainability is key to Roche's commitment to corporate social responsibility, and governs the intent of the Children's Walk.

"See where I am, I can say that my future is bright and I can support my two siblings at home. The children in the programs will be able to stand on their own and do whatever they want," says Louis Nyongo, a success story of the Children's Walk. Having benefitted from the care and education provided by one of the orphan centers run by ECPP, Louis was supported through secondary education and is now an ECPP Malawi employee.

More than half a million children in Malawi have lost one or both parents to AIDS. According to the World Health Organization, 66 percent of world's population living with HIV resides in Sub-Saharan Africa, and this region carries the highest burden of HIV infection and HIV/AIDS mortality in the world. Approximately three-quarters of women and 90% of children are living with AIDS in this region. Malawi is a peaceful and stable country with over 11 million people, almost 20% of which are infected with HIV. Malawi is also one of the world's least developed and poorest countries, where people live on less than $ 0.50 US per day.

Donations Also Benefit New Jersey

Funds raised are also used to support children in over 50 local communities in which we work. In New Jersey, a portion of the employee donations are distributed to community-based non-profit organizations serving people living with HIV/AIDS through the New Jersey AIDS Partnership (NJAP). Since 2003, Roche has donated over $500,000 to NJAP(3).

According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, 35,688 people were reported living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey as of December 2010(4).

"Roche's continued support and leadership on AIDS in New Jersey is unique as we enter the fourth decade of the epidemic," said Paula Toynton, director of the New Jersey AIDS Partnership. "Our service providers struggle to respond to an entrenched epidemic in an environment of shrinking dollars and complacency. Gratefully, the contributions of the Roche employees make it possible for the Partnership to fund much needed services in the communities we serve."

"What a great opportunity to reach out to people,  some of whom are thousands of miles away from us, who don't even know us and have never experienced the comfort and quality of life that we take for granted each day," said Catheryne Majewski, Quality Assurance Manager at Roche. "The exciting part is that once Roche matches our contributions,  we will double our efforts to touch the lives of orphans in Malawi and families in US."

About the Roche Children's Walk

The Roche Children's Walk, originally the Roche Employee AIDS Walk, started in 2003 as a pilot project involving three Roche locations. It was inspired by employees concerned about the growing number of AIDS orphans in Africa and their desire to personally do something to help. The pilot walk was an overwhelmingly success: 1,300 employees participated and a total of 330,000 Swiss francs were raised. Since then it has continuously grown, and over seven million Swiss francs ($5.9 million US) were donated to support the AIDS orphans in Malawi.

Additionally, each year, the names of the top Roche fund-raisers from around the globe are entered into a drawing and several are selected to visit Malawi as company ambassadors. During their stay,  employees visit the orphan centers, speak to the children, local helpers and the European Coalition of Positive People (ECPP), and can see first-hand how the donations are being used. All return home inspired by what their dollars have helped build as well as a sense of the tremendous need to continue helping children in the region.

The International Day of the African Child

The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world's largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche's personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs ($8.7B US) in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs ($45.6B US). Genentech, Inc., is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: or

(1)Roche Children's Walk -

(2)International Day of the African Child -


(4)NJ Dept of Health and Senior Services -

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