Sixth grader appointed as grand marshal for event

Gabriel Sanchez wears his specially-tailored grand marshal sash.
Photo courtesy of Heather Smith / Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

A Bronx student was recognized by his school and his hospital during a special ceremony.

On Monday, March 30, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center officially appointed sixth grader Gabriel Sanchez, 13, as the grand marshal of its 11th annual Go The Distance Walk and Family Fun Day during a ceremony at his school, St. Raymond Elementary School, after MFCH named him on Wednesday, March 25.

Previously, Gabriel had been in and out of hospitals his entire life until he was correctly diagnosed with and treated at MFCH for chronic granulomatous disease, a rare genetic disorder.

Because of this disease, Gabriel had difficulty fighting even the most simple infections and as a result, he suffered from various illnesses and underwent many operations.

However, after he underwent a stem-cell transplant at the hospital, Gabriel was given a new immune system and a new lease on a healthy life – a life that now includes Sanchez playing a major part in the upcoming walk.

Presently, Gabriel stands as a representation and a primary example of the thousands of children who are cared for by Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital each year.

Sanchez received his specially-tailored grand marshal sash from hospital representatives in front of school administrators, teachers and more than 650 St. Raymond students at the ceremony. Gabriel’s parents, Angelique and Rafael, were also on hand to see him be appointed.

“The entire St. Raymond Elementary School community is so proud of Gabriel Sanchez for being appointed grand marshal of the Go The Distance Walk and Family Fun Day,” said Sr. Patricia Brito, the principal at St. Raymond Elementary School. “We were thrilled to host the appointment ceremony here at the school and to be part of this important moment in Gabriel’s life.”

This year’s Go The Distance Walk & Family Fun, which will include a casual one-mile walk and a host of family activities, will take place at the Westchester Medical Center campus in Valhalla on Sunday, May 3 at 9:30 a.m. Registration is from 8 to 9:30 a.m..

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 742–3384. E-mail him at
Gabriel Sanchez (C) poses with his parents, Angelique and Rafael.
Photo courtesy of Heather Smith / Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

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