NUTLEY, N.J., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Armed with a clear focus on helping orphaned children locally as well as thousands of miles away, more than 900 local Roche employees are participating today in the Seventh Annual Roche Children's Walk to raise funds to support children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in New Jersey and Africa. Employees who volunteer for the 5K Walk, which takes them through the township of Nutley, collect donations and Roche matches the funds. Roche has raised approximately six million Swiss francs since the first AIDS walk in 2003 and more than 60,000 employees have taken part around the globe. A portion of donations from employees are distributed to community-based non-profit organizations serving people living with HIV/AIDS through the New Jersey AIDS Partnership (NJAP). Since the Walk's inception in 2003, Roche has donated over $350,000 to NJAP(1). According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 35,012 people were reported living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey as of December 2009(2).
"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."
In addition to supporting NJAP, funds raised through the Roche Children's Walk will be donated to UNICEF to support orphanages in Malawi for children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. These donations go towards building and equipping seven orphan centers, including a health clinic, in Southern Malawi, which provide day care and support learning to approximately 3,000 children as well as life-saving resources such as food, water, clothing and basic healthcare. The goals of these centers are to keep the children off the streets and offer the hope of a brighter future. For more information, access: http://www.roche.com/corporate_responsibility/society/community/feature-childrenswalk.htm
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. Over 500,000 children have lost one or both parents because of AIDS. Malawi is also one of the world's least developed and poorest countries, where people live on less than US$ 0.50 per day.
Roche Employees Give Back
Undeterred by the weather, over the years Nutley employees have walked in the rain, snow and gusty winds and are very proud to contribute to such a worthy cause. "Walking for the children is just a no brainer to me. It's a great day for us, and just the smallest effort on our part, literally a walk in the park," said Cathy Tighe, Systems Support Specialist in Product Development at Roche. "The money goes to people here locally, the New Jersey AIDS Partnership and they do such wonderful things with the money. And then to know that the corporate match goes to the kids in Malawi towards their education, their schools, supplies that they need. It just makes such a difference, it's so easy for us, but the money goes so far. It's just so positive all the way around."
"The Roche Children's Walk is a wonderful opportunity for employees to support local as well as international efforts," said Patricia Hughes, director, Corporate Relations and Contributions at Roche. "Our motto for this event - 'One Company, One Day, One Cause'- truly exemplifies our social vision of helping others in need, which resonates with employees not only in Nutley but around the world."
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 last year 100 sites participated, with over 60,000 colleagues walking, and over one million Swiss francs were donated to support the AIDS orphans in Malawi.
In addition, 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, participants have the opportunity to visit the orphan centers, speak to the children, local helpers and the European Coalition of Positive People (ECPP), and see for themselves 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.
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 2009, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested almost 10 billion Swiss francs in R&D ($9.1B US). The Group posted sales of 49.1 billion Swiss francs ($45.1B US). Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: www.roche.com or www.roche-nutley.com.
(2) NJ Dept of Health and Senior Services http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/documents/qtr1209.pdf
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