Betty Rundio loved to walk. She’d walk in the predawn hours, before she went to work, carrying a flashlight to guide her way. She was a well-known sight in the neighborhood, often finishing before the school buses did their first pickups. Walking was a constant in Betty’s life, so it was only natural that when the cancer first emerged eight years ago that walking became a way to process and cope, not only for Betty but for her daughters Missy and Stacey. They formed a team, “Because Betty Can,” in the annual Seashore Gardens 5K Run & Health Walk.
Seashore Gardens has been a second home for Missy Rundio, who started as an intern when the Home was in Atlantic City and she was a student at Stockton. Now Director of Recreation, Missy has the most profound love for her residents. She enjoys making them laugh and feel special. She would do anything for them. The 5K is one way to show that by “walking the walk.”
In fact, the entire Rundio family had ties to Seashore Gardens through work and/or volunteering. Stacey volunteered for the Opening Minds Through Art (OMA), a Scripps Gerontology Center intergenerational art program for people with dementia. Sister Deana also volunteered at the Home and sister Rhean and her two sons had worked there. Betty herself volunteered, with the popular “Baking with Betty” program that Missy continues today. The family knew that this event was a special way to give back.
In that first 5K Run & Health Walk, Betty walked the boards. She was joined by her girls, her sisters, her great niece, and some of the neighbors who watched her walk each morning. Betty went on to valiantly fight her cancer diagnosis but ultimately, succumbed to it.
“The night of the viewing, we came home and turned on our street, and there were solar lights lined up on both sides,” said Missy. “They went all the way down, leading up to my mom’s and dad’s yard, along the route where she used to walk with her flashlight. There was a note on the mailbox from the neighbors. They also made a sign, ‘Betty Ann Boulevard.’ It was the most beautiful tribute.”
“We still try to keep up her legacy of walking,” said Missy. “Even in the darkest time, when you might be so ill that you couldn’t walk from your bed to the bathroom, knowing that it was important to take one more step, to walk toward recovery. We walk because we can, because our mother did, and to make a difference.”
“Because Betty Can” became “Because Betty Did.” Missy’s coworkers Sharon D’Angio and Jessica O’Brien now walk in support of Missy, Stacey and their family. They walk in Betty’s memory to help provide support for families battling another serious health crisis.
“Fortunately, I do not have any family members affected by Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Missy. I see the effects this horrible disease has on people. I think it’s important to support any disease that needs donations to help find medicines to manage side effects and more importantly, a CURE.”
“I tell others to come out and enjoy the Spring weather, get some exercise, bring your friends and feel good about doing it for a great cause!”