SPRINGFIELD – When this year’s 20th annual Rays of Hope – A Walk Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer steps off on Oct. 20, it will be a celebration of two decades of women, men and children walking together to fight breast cancer.
Since its inception in Springfield in 1994 by Lucy Giuggio Carvalho, Rays of Hope, the most successful fund raising walk and run in western Massachusetts for breast cancer, has grown from 500 participants raising $50,000 to some 22,000 walkers and runners in an expanded event that includes a second walk in Greenfield, as well as this year’s Fourth annual Run Toward the Cure 8K in Springfield.
This year’s annual walk events – conducted each October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – are presented by Health New England.
Since 1994, Rays of Hope has raised over $11 million, all of which has remained in the local community to assist patients and their families affected by breast cancer.
As in past years, the Springfield walk with some 600 teams – either a two- or five-mile route – and run begin at Temple Beth El on Dickinson Street where registration is set for 9 a.m. The Walk in Greenfield – either a two- or three-mile route – begins at Energy Park on Miles Street with registration at 10 a.m. The Springfield Walk steps off at 10:30 a.m. preceded at 10:15 a.m. by the run, followed later at noon in Greenfield.
The 4th Annual Run Toward the Cure 8K continues this year with the help of Fast Feet in West Springfield and Westfield. While the event is considered a “fun run,” there will be a time clock at the finish line for runners who want to see and record what may hopefully be their “personal best.”
Participants can register for both the Walk and Run online at baystatehealth.org/raysofhope, where they can also create their own personal webpage to assist them in their fundraising efforts.
Anna Symington, a breast cancer survivor from South Hadley, who has been involved in the Rays of Hope for the past 11 years as both a walker and exhibitor selling handmade creations with proceeds benefiting Rays of Hope, is serving her last year as event chair.
“I am proud to have been associated all these years with an organization which has dedicated itself to helping women and men in their breast cancer journey through a broad realm of supportive services and research to find a cure. Although I may be relinquishing my duties as chair, I will remain a strong advocate of the Rays of Hope and everything they do to promote breast health within our communities,” Symington said.
All monies raised through the Rays of Hope remain local and are administered by the Baystate Health Foundation. Over the years, funds have supported the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, as well as treatment, breast health outreach and education, and the purchase of state-of-the art equipment through the Baystate Health Breast Network, including Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, and various community projects throughout western Massachusetts.
Those who want to support the Rays of Hope, but are unable to walk due to other commitments, can participate in the 10,000 Steps Toward A Cure program. Participants receive a pedometer to keep track of their steps throughout the month of October, while raising donations similar to other walkers.
This year’s Rays of Hope major sponsors are Health New England, Gale Toyota, Balise, Baystate Breast & Wellness Center, Baystate Breast Specialists, Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, Doctor’s Express, Kinsley Power Systems, Lia Auto Group, Radiology & Imaging, and Zasco Productions. A listing of all sponsors can be found on the Rays of Hope website.
For more information about this year’s Rays of Hope Walk and 8K Run, which will take place rain or shine, call 794-8001 or visit baystatehealth.org/raysofhope