By Carley Dangona
WEST SPRINGFIELD – Town employees conducted a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser event to benefit Rays of Hope.
On April 15, the town presented $200 to the charity just outside Mayor Edward Sullivan’s office in the Town Hall. Founder Lucy Giuggio Carvalho was on hand to personally accept the donation. Since its inception in 1994, Rays of Hope has raised nearly $12 million.
“I think it’s heartwarming and it exemplifies what Rays of Hope is,” Carvalho said. “It’s a small group of people coming together and doing something good for the community. They got together, they made it happen [and] they raised the money. The excitement and the passion they have, I think, is really what inspires me and all of us at Rays of Hope.”
The Rays of Hope website describes its mission: “Rays of Hope cares for the whole person from diagnosis and beyond by supporting research at the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research, providing funding for state-of-the-art equipment, breast health programs, outreach and education and complementary therapies while also supporting cancer programs with our community partners.”
Carvalho, a cancer survivor of 21 years, discussed her motivation for creating Rays of Hope.
“I had breast cancer and I felt like we needed more resources as I went through it. Even as a nurse, I didn’t know exactly where to go. I thought ‘How do other people do it, who aren’t nurses, who don’t know the medical system?’ I wanted to raise money for breast services locally and have the money stay local. I wanted to see where the money went and that’s what we accomplished.”
Michelle Shattuck is the 2014-2015 Rays of Hope Chair. She battled two bouts of breast cancer in 2008 and 2009 before the age of 40. This December, she will celebrate five years as a survivor. With her role, Shattuck helps raise awareness about the disease and the importance of seeing a doctor is anything feels different than normal.
When asked what she took away from her experience with cancer, Shattuck responded, “Don’t take anything for granted and absolutely don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Shattuck said, “One of the things I love most about Rays of Hope is that [the] monies raised stay local here in Western Massachusetts, which is huge. That money is there for wigs, prosthetics, research, support, support groups [and] complimentary therapies for patients and survivors. It really does add this huge element of hope – the Rays really do spread through Western Massachusetts.”
For more information about Rays of Hope, visit http://foundation.baystatehealth.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=289
. This year’s Rays of Hope walk/run will take place on Oct. 19 in both Springfield and Greenfield.